Padiham boss staying positive as key players return to fitness

Spencer Jordan, in action with former club Barnoldswick Town
Spencer Jordan, in action with former club Barnoldswick Town

Storks boss Steve Wilkes believes he’ll win the war despite feeling the hit of a depleted squad sustained in battle.

Following a gruelling first half to the campaign, Padiham’s lack of personnel has started to show with numbers continually diminishing.

Striker Ben Allen sustained an ankle injury in the Boxing Day victory over rivals Clitheroe, Louis Mayers is serving a suspension for his dismissal against Mossley in December, while Tom Bradley and Kieran Britton remain sidelined.

In terms of the club’s remaining walking wounded, Spencer Jordan is slowly returning to full fitness after 18 months out, brother Lewis returned to action at the weekend, Elliott Dunn was expected to feature for the reserves prior to their postponement away at AFC Darwen, and Jack Overson is back in training.

“We’ve been struggling to raise a side,” said Wilkes. “We are right down to the bare bones. We’re struggling for a striker as well which might suggest why we’ve only scored once in four games. Ben Allen picked up an ankle injury against Clitheroe and Louis Mayers is suspended. We only had 12 players against Prescot.

“But Spencer Jordan has returned and had his first couple of starts in 18 months which is fantastic because he’s been through so much and we are glad to have him back on the pitch. That’s one of the only plus points over New Year.”

Results have been disappointing since the triumph at Shawbridge, with defeats to Prescot Cables and Salford City. And Wilkes admits that it’s been a testing couple of weeks over the festive period.

“It’s been disappointing,” he said. “We were really poor against Prescot Cables. It might be the case that we put everything we had in to the win over Clitheroe, but that’s no excuse. Prescot hadn’t won in six games so we should’ve been taking something from that game.

“We played well against Salford but we gave a sloppy goal away. We created lots of openings but we couldn’t pick a final pass out or craft that opportunity to score. We got behind them a number of times and played through them but it didn’t happen for us.

“We didn’t take anything from November, then we took 10 points from 15 in December, and now we’ve had a disappointing start to 2014. It’s frustrating not to get anything from either of our previous two games.”

The Storks travel to Ingfield tomorrow to take on in-form Ossett Town, and Wilkes is expecting a response from his players.

“It’s all about how we react now,” said Wilkes. “There was another good attendance on at the Arbories at the weekend and they know that the players can’t be faulted for effort. If we can get to 42 points we will be happy because that should cement our status in this division. But I don’t just want to play for safety. I want us to still push towards the play-offs. There’s no point in being here if we don’t have an aim.

“There’s no easy games in this league. Anybody on their day can beat anybody else and that’s what I keep telling the players. We will just keep going.”