REPORT: Padiham 3-3 Widnes
Dramatic conclusion stuns Widnes
Widnes FC had to settle for a point on Saturday after a late Padiham fightback stunned the visitors in a dramatic conclusion at the Ruby Civil Arena.
Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey’s side were leading 3-1 in stoppage time only to end up drawing 3-3 after what Akrigg described as “two minutes of sheer madness.”
Early goals from Jack Banister and Brad Smart ensured that Widnes held a comfortable half-time lead but Michael Morrison halved the deficit early in the second half only for visitors’ skipper Kev Pollard to restore the two-goal advantage 13 minutes from time.
The most dramatic of finales followed as Dominic Craig pulled a goal back for Padiham and then Spencer Jordan equalised at the death for the Storks but not before Widnes’ Andy Gillespie had a certain goal cleared off the line.
Widnes joint bosses Akrigg and Towey named the same side that beat Maine Road 5-1 in their last league outing, with Towey and defender Tom Mitchell being named amongst the substitutes as Chad Whyte and Joe Fielding missed out on places in the 16-man squad.
The visitors started well in difficult conditions in Lancashire and took an 11th minute lead.
New signing Banister continued his flying start to life in a Widnes shirt with a fine individual effort as the winger drove forward beyond two Padiham defenders before cutting inside and curling a well-taken shot into the far corner.
Widnes doubled their advantage five minutes later. Sean Myler kick-started the attack with a crunching challenge in midfield that released Billy Webb into space. The striker then pulled a cross back into the feet of Smart who provided a neat finish to net his first goal for the Club.
Padiham ‘keeper Dane Smith kept Widnes at bay on the half-hour mark as Webb was again involved as he combined with Sam Sheen before again looking to play Smart in behind but Smith as out quickly to make a decent save to deny the Widnes man.
The visitors could have been out of sight by the break as Banister was again involved as he floated a dangerous cross into the area that was narrowly headed over by Webb.
Halftime: Padiham 0-2 Widnes
Whatever as said at half-time had an immediate impact for Padiham who quickly reduced the deficit early in the second period.
It was a gift from Widnes’ point-of-view as a Padiham corner caused confusion in the visitors’ area as miscommunication between ‘keeper Richie Mottram and Banister allowed the loose ball to fall kindly for Storks’ skipper Morrison to turn home from close-range.
The hosts had their tails up and enjoyed a period of sustained pressure but Padiham struggled to test Mottram as Christopher Turner sliced wide of the Widnes custodian’s right-hand post.
Towey was introduced from the bench for Widnes who went in search of an elusive third which came 13 minutes from time.
The Widnes joint boss was involved as he cleverly latched on to Sam Sheen’s deft pass over the Padiham backline before fizzing a cross into the six-yard area where skipper Pollard was on-hand to convert on the half-volley to restore his side’s two-goal advantage.
With Padiham pushing for a late equaliser, Widnes keeper Mottram had to be alert late on as Daniel Boyle evaded the offside trap but Mottram was out quickly to make a good block with his body to deny the Storks’ striker.
Cue two minutes of absolute madness.
A goal from nothing set up a tense finish as Pollard’s attempted clearance cannoned back off the body of Jordan allowing Craig to pick up the loose ball and drive his shot into the roof of the net.
Nobody could envision what was to follow as Widnes put Padiham under pressure straight from the ensuing kick-off. Alex Davies won the ball back on the edge of the area after a wayward Smith clearance with the loose ball breaking to substitute Andy Gillespie who looked certain to score after rounding the keeper but Benjamin Hoskin miraculously managed to block the shot on the goalline.
Padiham quickly launched a counter-attack as keeper Smith hurried to launch the ball down the field with Mike Burke’s header landing at the feet of Christopher Anderson of the far-side. He steadied himself and floated a delicious ball into the area finding Bradley Ditch who timed his run brilliantly to split the Widnes backline, only to head agonisingly against the bar.
The drama wasn’t over as Jordan was waiting to head home the rebound to send the home fans into delirium.
Fulltime: Padiham 3-3 Widnes
Widnes now face a quick turnaround and the task of picking themselves up for a Monday night clash against Abbey Hey at the Halton Stadium.