By George Newell

Three set-piece goals for in-form Michael Howard led Skelmersdale to a 3-0 win over Padiham.

The victory sees the Blueboys extend their unbeaten run to 14 games and remain just one point behind leaders Macclesfield.

On a day which saw three other league fixtures postponed, United were glad of their artificial pitch and wasted no time in getting into their stride.

They were on the front foot from the outset and went swiftly into the lead when they were awarded a free-kick some 20 yards out.

Howard’s right-footed strike deceived goalkeeper Matthew Hamnett, who might have felt he should’ve done better with the attempt.

Although, Padiham could have been back on terms almost immediately when Joel Brownhill got on the end of Marcus Perry’s excellent cross before firing just wide.

However, it was the hosts who struck next when they were awarded a questionable penalty for a suspected handball.

Howard converted from the spot to put Skelmersdale 2-0 up within 15 minutes.

Despite the deficit The Storks continued to create chances, but it was the Blueboys who looked most likely to score next with both Howard and Tom Croughan coming close to adding a third.

As the second half began, the hosts continued to create chances with Danny Mitchley firing just wide from close-range before then being thwarted by an excellent covering tackle when seemingly through on goal.

However, there was still hope for the visitors with their high-pressing game still creating occasional chances for their forwards.

But, the result was all but confirmed 18 minutes from time when United were awarded another penalty after Mitchley was brought down clumsily in the area.

Howard again converted to ensure he went home with the match ball.

With another three points seemingly on the way the hosts began to strut their stuff and might have felt they should’ve scored again with the chances they created in the closing stages.

Kenny Strickland attempts to score a free-kick of his own (Image: George Newell)
Kenny Strickland attempts to score a free-kick of his own (Image: George Newell)

Despite their comfortability in the game United remained defiant with goalkeeper Ben Barnes pulling off a brilliant save late on to ensure a fifth clean sheet of the season.

The win sees them move nine points clear of third-placed Charnock Richard.

Skelmersdale will be looking to build on this when they travel to Ashton Athletic after the Christmas break on Monday December 27 (3pm kick-off).

(Featured image by George Newell)


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