Wilkes happy as Storks win successive league fixtures!

Action from the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy semi-final between Lancaster City (blue and white) v Padiham, at the County Ground in Leyland.
Padiham keeper Mike Donlon turns a shot away.  PIC BY ROB LOCK
23-2-2016

Action from the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy semi-final between Lancaster City (blue and white) v Padiham, at the County Ground in Leyland. Padiham keeper Mike Donlon turns a shot away. PIC BY ROB LOCK 23-2-2016

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Steve Wilkes is looking to build on recent progression at the club after the Storks registered successive league wins for the first time this term.

Following on from a 4-1 win over Winsford United at the Barton Stadium, Padiham were triumphant against AFC Darwen on Easter Monday.

Goals from Jake Townsend and Aaron Taylor secured the 2-1 victory at the WEC Group Anchor Ground, though Wilkes heaped praise on goalkeeper Michael Donlon for the part he played in securing maximum points and a third-consecutive success on the road.

The 25-year-old was described as the “best shot stopper” in the North West Counties Premier Division by the Arbories boss after a number of impressive displays since moving from Lancaster City.

After the visitors lost leading scorer Kieron Pickup with a hamstring injury on the quarter-of-an-hour mark, Donlon denied Johnny Hession on two occasions.

The former Clitheroe man cut in from the right hand side, drove in to the area at an angle, but was thwarted by an excellent stop by Donlon, who sprawled to his left.

The second opportunity was a carbon copy of the first, though this time Donlon parried the initial attempt before saving the rebound.

“On another day we could’ve conceded two or three,” said Wilkes. “Michael was in inspired form, he was brilliant, and in the last couple of games he’s made some absolutely fantastic saves. He’s kept us in games.

“He’s a proper goalkeeper and he’s got the full package. He’s got good handling, he’s a fantastic shot stopper and he can kick the ball.

“He’s on top of his game at the moment. He’s played at a decent level with Lancaster and he’s definitely one of the best shot stoppers in this division.”

Padiham took the lead just before half-time when Garry Hunter, Josh Emmott and Alex Murphy combined in the build up before Townsend held off his marker, moved infield and curled the ball in to the corner of the net.

The away side extended their lead in the 65th minute when Taylor was upended in the box and the striker stepped up to convert from the spot, sending Daniel Jackson the wrong way to net his fourth goal in as many games.

The hosts halved the deficit with seven minutes of normal time remaining when Anthony Lynch’s cross deflected off Seydou Bamba and Nick Hepple before finding the net.

And they almost stole a point with the clock ticking down when Hepple shaped the ball towards the far corner, but Donlon got down well to tip the attempt around the upright.

“We dug in better than we’ve done all season,” said Wilkes. “We won ugly on a pitch that was a disgrace. That was pleasing because a few weeks ago we would’ve lost that game.

“We’re unbeaten in six now and it’s down to that gritty performance. Our return over the Easter period has been great.

“It’s the first time that we’ve won back-to-back league games this season and it was the first time that we’d won a derby match.

“It’s a step forward but I’m a perfectionist so I want a clean sheet next. We need to build on this and get our home form up to scratch now.”

Padiham host 1874 Northwich tomorrow with kick off at 3 p.m.