Boss Wilkes wants to go far in LFA Challenge Trophy

Padiham FC V Ashton Athletic FC at The Arbories, Padiham.'Padiham FC (Blue) V Ashton Athletic (Yellow).'Padiham's Manager Steve Wilkes.'22nd August 2015
Padiham FC V Ashton Athletic FC at The Arbories, Padiham.'Padiham FC (Blue) V Ashton Athletic (Yellow).'Padiham's Manager Steve Wilkes.'22nd August 2015

Storks boss Steve Wilkes feels he has unfinished business in the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy competition.

A 2-1 defeat to Bacup Borough at the Lancashire FA County Ground in Leyland in 2013 saw Padiham miss out on the final against AFC Fylde at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium.

The Storks, however, went on to win the North West Counties Premier Division title that season, gaining promotion to the Evo-Stik First Division North.

But after offering his analysis in a co-commentary slot at last year’s finale between Chorley and Clitheroe in Horwich, Wilkes has been given the hunger to go again.

Ahead of tonight’s second round tie against Atherton LR at Crilly Park, he said: “It’s a great competition. We got to the semi-final the year we got promoted from the North West Counties. We got beat against Bacup and at the time it was the lowest I’d felt as a manager.

“It was horrible losing that football match but in hindsight it was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to us because it allowed us to focus on the league.

“If the game is on, it’s going to be tough. The pitch won’t be in the best of conditions so I don’t think football will be the winner - I think it’ll come down to who wants it more on the night. We’ll just have to roll our sleeves up.”

Wilkes added: “If we win then we’re in the last eight and looking for the draw to be kind. You never know what can happen after that. You’ve got your Chorley’s and Fylde’s in the competition and they’ll start fielding stronger sides.

“But Bacup and Clitheroe have shown that teams from the North West Counties and the Evo-Stik League can get to the final. It’s a prestigious event and one of the longest-running competitions in the country.

“We’ll be going to Atherton with a strong squad looking to progress. We’re looking to close in on the Macron and my players won’t get the opportunity to do that very often.”

Meanwhile, Hallowe’en may have passed but there’s been some spooky coincidences between results in the Wilkes household.

Wilkes’s daughter Olivia, who plays for Manchester United Under 17s, lost 5-4 to Sunderland, beat Everton 2-1, drew 0-0 with Stoke City and beat Derby County 3-2 on the same days that Padiham had identical scorelines and outcomes against 1874 Northwich, Cammell Laird, Colne and AFC Liverpool respectively.

The Storks also lost to Squires Gate as United lost to Liverpool while both weekend games were postponed with Padiham set to face West Didsbury & Chorlton at the Arbories.

“It’s bizarre what’s gone on recently,” Wilkes said. “The outcome of Olivia’s games have matched our’s almost every week. It’s a strange coincidence. In fact it’s got to the stage where I’ve started telling Olivia’s coach to make sure that they win!”