Padiham ready for festive period

Steve Wilkes.
Steve Wilkes.

PADIHAM manager Steve Wilkes is anticipating a Christmas to remember with three mouth-watering games over the festive period.

The Storks, who currently lie second in the NWCFL Premier Division, take on fourth-placed Congleton Town away tomorrow before taking on Barnoldswick Town at home on Boxing Day and current leaders Maine Road on Saturday, December 29th.

Padiham are currently on a five-game winning streak and Wilkes knows that if the club was to extend this run to eight, his side would most likely go into 2013 in top spot.

“We’ve only lost one in 14,” he said. “It’s exciting, but my job, as I’ll keep saying every week, is to keep people’s feet on the ground. We have three absolutely massive games now and it’s great. We’re not worried that we’re playing these teams, we’re looking forward to it.”

Padiham’s fifth win out of five came at home to Ashton Athletic on Saturday – a resounding 4-1 victory.

Despite their last three home league games finishing 4-0, 4-0 and 4-1, Wilkes said he was more than happy picking up scrappy 1-0 wins.

“Our goal difference was around +12 before those games, while some of the other teams were in the 20s. We’re up to +23 now but I will still happily take a 90th-minute 1-0 winner that comes off someone’s backside.”

And Wilkes does not expect there to be a lot of goals in their festive encounters.

“Congleton will, of course, be a tough game. We’re four points clear of them with two games in hand, so if we win that’ll obviously open up a nice gap. There’s obviously still a long, long way to go though.

“A win would also set us up nicely for the Barnoldswick game. The best two teams I feel we have played this season have been Bootle and Barnoldswick. I’ve been in non-league football a long time and the game we played at their ground earlier in the season was one of the best. Two great teams just going at each other all game. It’ll be a difficult game but we can’t wait for it.”

A trip to league leaders Maine Road, who are currently three points clear having played two more, will round off the year and a potential opportunity to finish 2012 as the number one team in the NWCFL Premier Division.

“At the beginning of the season everybody was talking about Runcorn Town, Bootle and Barnoldswick as potential title winners.

“Nobody was talking about Maine Road or Padiham as being up there. If somebody had offered me at the beginning of the season where we are now, I’d have bitten there hand off.

“Maine Road themselves have only lost one in 12 I think, so it’s certainly not going to be an easy one.”

Top spot and promotion is certainly not an unattainable target Wilkes feels, and he believes the club has everything in place to make it in the higher divisions.

“The club’s buzzing at the minute. They’ve never been higher than fourth in the league and we’re in the semi-final of the Lancashire Challenge Trophy, a competition which they’d never been past the second round in.

“Everything is here to be able to take this club into the EvoStik League. They are set up to be in the EvoStik League and I know we can get there.”