Stretford Paddock ran away 4-1 winners against bottom dwellers AFC Oldham, taking care of business and maintaining their three-point lead at the top of the table. However, the performance was far from impressive, and the game was surprisingly competitive for large parts of the match, with Oldham being able to build confidence and compete throughout.

Stephen Howson echoed throughout the week of his expectations of no complacency and approaching the match with ruthlessness and conviction. Still, it was the visitors that began the game with impetus and urgency, taking the lead through a tremendous direct free-kick early in the first half and continued to create half-chances until Paddock decided to wake up.

Paddock then scored four goals unanswered, with Kieron Molloy continuing his sensational goal-scoring season, followed by Joao De Andrade scoring from the spot and setting up to others to continue his excellent start to his Paddock career. Much of the noise was surrounding the return of Ronaldo Brown, who made his return to the club after a short stint and Ramsbottom United, marking his return with a goal late in the second half to secure the points. It was a forgettable performance from the reds, one that Stephen Howson described as “the worse performance he’s seen from a Stretford Paddock team”, as he is aware that with the strength of the run in Paddock have to end the season, Paddock will need to perform much better if they expect to come away with the title come the end of the season.

Howson’s men will have the chance to put things right as they will be returning next weekend against Salford Victoria in another must-win game and will be looking to put in a much better performance than they could muster this weekend. With only five league games remaining, it’s invariably five cup finals as Paddock can’t afford to slip up.

Mitul Mistry

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