Padiham? It exists! You turn left somewhere up in the hills near Clitheroe and it's there, with shops and chippies and everything. And tucked down the back of some seriously steep narrow streets is the Padiham stadium, loitering at altitude in line with the turrets of the church below.
Yesterday afternoon, a burnt orange, post-nuclear style sunset added to the surreal setting. But if this was a different dimension, on the field Salford City were getting back to something resembling their normal line up with Danny Browne and Mark Battersby returning to the attack after injury.
It didn't take long for the Ammies to rip into Padiham, totally dominating a first half which should have seen a two or three goal lead by half time. In the event, all they had to show was a Stuart Cook goal after fifteen minutes. Matty Purcell blocked a defender's hoofed clearance, chased down the lost ball near the corner flag and crossed to Mark Battersby on the edge of the area, who laid the ball off for Cook to drive home. 1-0.
Rio Ahmadi could have made it two just before half time, but he skimmed a free header wide from within the six yard box. Nevertheless, Salford took the lead into the interval as fans expected a hatful in the second half.
…Maybe it was the nuclear sunset, maybe it was the altitude, but Salford, rather than adding to the lead, were on the back foot for most of the second half. Apart from a point blank Rio Ahmadi header that the keeper kept out and a few shots that flew above the orange clouds, it was all Padiham.
Salford City goalie, Dan Fradd, made a couple of match winning stops, while shots were constantly blocked by a resolute Ammies defence. Late on, fans favourite Nathan McDonald - returning to the club and on as sub - almost sealed it for Salford with a trademark acrobatic flick that just sailed over the bar.
Under late pressure Salford held on to grab the three points. In the end a hard fought victory that saw the Ammies do the double over Padiham and move up to tenth in the Evo-Stik First Division.
Photos by Andrew Goudie
Main photo shows Stuart Cook scoring Salford's goal