1874 NORTHWICH arrived eventually where they had wanted to – with three points in their possession at the final whistle – but took the long way round.

Had James Dean’s header crept under the crossbar, rather than be diverted onto it by goalkeeper Nick Ward’s fingertips, with the score at 2-1 they may have hit a roadblock.

Instead goals in the closing stages from substitutes Harry Cain and Lee Knight, against his old teammates, helped the final score reflect a distance between the teams on the field.

It is also the best opening-day victory in the club’s short history.

They might have reached that milestone during an opening 20 minutes they dominated.

Visiting custodian Matthew Holmes was kept busy and he reacted brilliantly smother Scott McGowan’s shot after initially scuffing a clearance straight at the striker.

The Storks’ number one parried Michael Koral’s near-post drive too before stopping Jake Parker’s stooping header after the ball was recycled.

However he could only watch and admire, along with everybody else inside Townfield, when the midfielder steered a rising shot into the top corner an incisive one-two with McGowan.

Padiham had been slovenly and disorganised – the worst combination against opponents eager to impose themselves.

The away side also possess James Dean, a striker capable of the brilliance with which he arrowed a stunning equaliser – quick-as-a-flash past Ward – seven minutes later.

1874’s attempt to catch him offside was inept, but the powerful front-man still had plenty to do before connecting with a ball that bounced invitingly.

Dazed initially, the home team restored a lead when McGowan glanced a close-range header out of Holmes’ reach from Callum Gardner’s cross on 36 minutes.

There was a double-blow for Padiham when first Kirtis Monson and then Ben McNamara both limped off injured, prompting as many reshuffles.

Management duo Adam Morning and Michael Morrison used the interval wisely, and their side was more resilient in the second-half.

There were still glimpses of goal for 1874; Parker had one attempt saved before firing another too high, then Sam Hare jabbed wide after Lee Jackson’s marauding run ended with a precise cut-back.

But the tempo was lower and the game flowed much less, persuading Paul Bowyer and Wayne Goodison to introduce Harry Cain and Taylor Kennerley.

Their impact wasn’t felt until later and Dean’s header, after Sam Hind’s pocket had been picked, was tipped onto the woodwork by debutant Ward.

The outcome was settled by Cain though on 75 minutes when he fired with power past Holmes after a defender’s touch diverted Hind’s centre into his path.

It was the wide-man's final touch and his replacement, Lee Knight, stroked in a fourth goal shortly afterwards after pouncing on a loose ball.

The replacement enjoyed it too.

As housewarming parties go – this was 1874’s first official game at their new digs in Barnton – this was a good one.

1874 | 4-2-3-1 | Ward (GK), Hind, Mitchell, Lee Jackson, Russell, Matthew Woolley, Hare, Koral (Cain 63, Knight 76), Parker, Gardner (Kennerley 63), McGowan Subs not used Okome, Ormrod Goals Parker 16, McGowan 36, Cain 75, Knight 83 Booked Mitchell (foul) 

Padiham | 4-3-3 | Holmes (GK), Morton, Lynch, Unsworth, Monson (McKenna 45), Smith, McNamara (Hill 45), Dunroe (Walker 46), Craig, Dean, Burnett Sub not used Green Goal Dean 22 Booked Craig (kicking the ball away), McNamara (foul) 

Referee Declan Brown 

Attendance 275