Sidelined Storks striker Ben Allen insists Evo-Stik First Division North survival would signal progression for the club.
The 23-year-old, absent since Boxing Day after tearing ankle ligaments in the victory over Clitheroe, believes Padiham are considerably better than their league position of 17th suggests, but Allen understands the challenge they’ve faced in their inaugural season in the eighth tier of the English football pyramid.
“It’s been tough and it’s been a big step up,” he said. “The standard is much better and it’s been hard getting to grips with it at times. We’ve not been putting our chances away when they’ve come. You’ve got to punish teams at this level, and our mistakes have come back to haunt us.
“We’re not keeping the goals out either and that’s making life difficult. Last season, when games were tight, we were able to grind out results and that’s been something we haven’t done this term.
“It’s been a steep learning curve. We need to keep going and see the season out and I think another four wins will secure safety. However, I feel we’re strong enough and capable enough to get more than that.”
Allen added: “Survival will definitely show progression for Padiham Football Club. We’ve moved forward. We’re a small club on a low budget so it’s been a great achievement just to get to this level. I don’t think we’ll be going down.
“We won’t be breaking any records this year, but it’s certainly been a great challenge. The experience this season will definitely help the club build and become stronger next year.”
Allen was heading toward double figures for the term prior to his setback at Shawbridge, while strike partner Kieron Pickup has notched 14. Now, with Padiham’s winless streak stretching, Allen is determined to reach match fitness in a bid to fire them away from the drop zone.
Ahead of tomorrow’s fixture with Wakefield, who loiter just above the relegation places, Allen said: “I’ve not played since Boxing Day. It might be another couple of weeks before I’m back. The first half of the season was good and it was exciting. I just want to get back playing.
“I just want to get fit and work hard to get back in the team. I want to score goals and push us further up the table. There’s nothing worse than standing on the sidelines and knowing you can’t do anything about the outcome of a game.”
Allen, who scored 41 goals in the promotion campaign, landing the NWC Premier Division Golden Boot, added: “Last season was great for the team and for myself. I knew this season would be tougher to get goals. This season I’ve scored nine in about 20 appearances so I guess averaging one in two isn’t too bad.
“It was going well. Kieron has had a cracking season. Our partnership didn’t click until about the 10th game but then we scored a few goals. Before my injury we’d been linking up well together and it was starting to work out for us.”