Storks boss Steve Wilkes believes that a marriage of confidence and a fully fit squad will help extinguish his side’s early inconsistency.
Prior to an emphatic 6-1 victory over Bamber Bridge at the end of September, Padiham had won just once in seven outings in all competitions which came in the FA Cup preliminary round against rivals Clitheroe.
But that form has switched, with the battering of Brig inclusive in a sequence that has seen the Storks win twice in three games. The Arbories outfit conveyed tremendous character to fight back from 3-1 down after just eight minutes against Burscough at Victoria Park but lost out to the most historic club in world football - Sheffield FC - in the FA Trophy.
“The game against Burscough was bizarre,” said Wilkes. “I didn’t know what was going on. We had kick-off, went down one end and should’ve scored, then they’ve broke and scored at the other end. The exact same thing happened to make it 2-0 straight after and then from the restart we’ve made it 2-1.
“But we showed character to come back and win the game 4-3. We were great against Bamber Bridge and that could’ve easily been 12-1 and then we were unfortunate at the weekend. I was disappointed with the result.”
Wilkes added: “The character of the squad will help us come through. Once the players realise that they’re good enough to compete at this level as well then we’ll be fine. I think there’s one or two that still have confidence issues at the moment. It’ll all come together eventually.”
With several key players sidelined through injury, Wilkes has worked tirelessly to put together a starting XI that can remain competitive at this level. And that’s allowed him to gauge the potential of young, fringe players including teenage keeper Marcus Burgess.
“It’s a little bit tough at the moment,” Wilkes declared. “Sean Davis has been out for the last six games but our young keeper Marcus Burgess has stepped up. He’s inexperienced at this level but he’s been brilliant and hasn’t let us down.
“He’s a bit apprehensive to come for crosses and usually sticks to his line but his shot stopping is superb. He’s done really well and it’s no surprise that Preston have been looking at him. He’s been called up to the Lancashire Under 18s and England Under 18s Colleges squads. He’s been magnificent for us and he’s got a bright future in the game.
“On top of that Jack Overson hasn’t played for three weeks, Elliott Dunn has played 20 minutes all season and Lewis Jordan was injured against Ramsbottom so it’s been really hard work.”
Wilkes has been scouring the market in a bid to bolster and strengthen his depleted squad and that’s resulted in the captures of Colne pair Ashley Carter and Dominic Craig, Clitheroe forward Danny Bell and Droylsden defender Rob Flynn.
“The new lads we have brought in have been brilliant,” he said. “Fingers crossed we are going in the right direction. We just need to find that consistency and I think it will click once the players adapt to playing at this level. We are still finding our feet but the players are doing well.”
Padiham travel to face fourth place Warrington town in the Evo-Stik First Division North tomorrow with kick-off at 3 p.m.