Storks boss Steve Wilkes has learnt to expect the unexpected after last season’s title-winning campaign, but he concedes that a top five finish may be out of his side’s grasp this term.
Padiham are currently 11 points off the Northern Premier League Division One play-off pace in the club’s maiden season in the eighth tier of the English football pyramid.
However, despite his sense of realism, Wilkes won’t be raising the white flag in surrender.
“We’re determined to move away from the bottom end and push towards the play-off spots,” said Wilkes. “With 26 games still remaining there’s still a chance of imposing ourselves on the top half if we can put a run together.
“We might not make the top five this season because we are all still finding our feet at this level. At this stage there are teams more adapt than us to finishing in the top five at this level.”
Wilkes added: “But there were teams more adapt than us to winning the NWC Premier Division and we surprised a few so we certainly won’t be throwing in the towel. We’re not under any pressure, there’s five places to aim for, so who knows what could happen.”
Games against Mossley and New Mills, both at the Arbories, now sit invitingly on the horizon in the league while a Lancashire FA Trophy second round tie away at Ramsbottom United is sandwiched in between. And Wilkes revealed that he’s already done his homework on Padiham’s future opponents.
“I went to watch New Mills play Ramsbottom when our game with Radcliffe Borough was postponed,” he said. “Ramsbottom are on a roll and are the form side in the league. They could’ve won by three or four on Saturday but credit to New Mills who dug in for a point.
“Ramsbottom are a very direct side with a number of small, quick players, especially on the flanks, and they like to get their full backs involved. Kieran Trippier’s brother, Kelvin, made his debut for them at the weekend as well.
“New Mills like to play football but I’ve taken a few things down that we can impose on them. The league games against Mossley, New Mills and then away at Cammell Laird are games that we’ve got to be taking three points from. They are teams in and around us in the table so they are important games for us.”
“It’s imperative that we start winning these games and if we perform like we have been doing then we’ll be fine. The players need to raise their game every week, not just for when we play the teams at the top. But they are starting to believe that they can play at this level now.”
Tomorrow’s clash against the Lilywhites kicks off at 3 p.m. at the Arbories.