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As of: 11/03/09 23:19

Draw at Padiham

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An injury time equaliser from Ian Sheridan rescued a point for AFC Liverpool in last Saturdays top of the table clash at Padiham, ending the home sides winning run.

The Reds were attacking the goal behind which their fans were stood in the first half and despite having to content with a slope, were still by far the better side in the opening fifteen minutes. Sheridan had a good drive touched round the post and a great ball down the right by Jay Chandler allowed Dave Eaton to run into the box unchallenged but his shot was well saved by keeper Sean Davis. Mark Bloxam also tried his look from forty yards but his shot was well wide.

Padiham’s first shot on goal didn’t come till the sixteenth minute but Robbie Smith’s effort was way over the bar. In the 24th minute AFC had a corner and Liam Coyne’s looping header was saved on the line by Davis, but in the closing stages of the first half the home side got back into the game more. Mark Gregory missed a header letting in Paul Barrett but he shot just wide, then Jack Baker made his first save, easily holding onto a weak shot. The biggest scare for AFC came on the stroke of half time when a dangerous low cross from the left deceived everyone but Smith just failed to connect at the far post.

In the second half the Reds were kicking down the slope and Sheridan had a good tipped past the post for a corner in the fiftieth minute. However it was Padiham who were having the clearer cut chances and should have done better with them. Paul Fildes shook off a challenge from Gregory to set up a good shooting opportunity but his shot didn’t trouble Baker. In the 67th minute Barrett turned both Coyne and Gregory inside out before laying off for Smith who looked certain to score, but he somehow screwed his shot wide from just eight yards out.

Dean Thurston came on for Andy Olsen in the 70th minute to bolster the Reds attack, but it was Padiham who broke the deadlock in seven minutes later. Tom Bradley crossed from the left and although Baker managed to block Fildes first shot from point blank range the Padiham striker was able to react quick enough to knock in the rebound.

The last ten minutes of the game were a little bad tempered, with Reds skipper Andy Barlow and Padiham defender Paul Morley both booked. It was somewhat harsh on Barlow to be given the same punishment as Morley given it was he who had been fouled and then slapped after speaking out at him. Bradley was also booked for dissent, then Barlow received his marching orders for the same thing in the 90th minute as he was given a second yellow.

Padiham should have wrapped the game up in the last few minutes, with Fildes firing over from the penalty spot when he was unchallenged. The Reds did have plenty of possession as they sought an equaliser, with the fearless Coyne getting forward at every opportunity especially for set pieces, but the Reds failed to create any clear chances.

Just as the game looked to be lost salvation came in the fourth minute of injury time. Thurston shook off a challenge and managed to lay the ball off for Sheridan who kept his composure to calmly place the ball past the keeper sparking wild celebrations amongst the fans, players and substitutes bench.

The draw was remarkably AFC’s first of the season and ended Padihams run of nine successive league wins that have seen them emerge as our main challengers for the title. The Reds remain seven points ahead at the top, although Padiham have five games in hand.

(February 22, 2009)