Storks boss Steve Wilkes believes his side’s survival hopes would be given a significant boost should they climb off the foot of the Evo-Stik First Division North table this weekend.
Padiham have been rooted to the bottom for the majority of the term, but tomorrow’s fixture against Brighouse Town at the Arbories provides the opportunity for the club to clamber in to 21st place.
I’ll be giving everything to keep us in this division. It’s a bigger challenge than when we got promoted so we need to rise to it.Steve Wilkes
With rivals New Mills travelling to Valley Road to take on title-chasing Northwich Victoria, former Preston North End midfielder Wilkes is keen to capitalise.
“We’ve got nine cup finals left and we need to win six of them in my opinion,” he said. “I think Prescot Cables could be out of sight now but we could pull Radcliffe Borough back in to it. We can get it back to eight points with a game in hand on them this weekend.
“A win could lift us off the bottom of the table which would be a massive step for us. It would be huge. My shoulders are killing because we’ve been holding everybody up since September!”
Wilkes added: “Climbing off the bottom would give them something to hold on to and fight for. We’ve got some big games coming up and getting off the bottom would give us a massive boost going in to them.
“I’ll be giving everything to keep us in this division. It’s a bigger challenge than when we got promoted so we need to rise to it.
“Winning the league was unexpected but we achieved it by sticking together. That’s exactly what we’ve got to do this time.”
The Storks were given a masterclass by table-topping Salford City at the weekend, with former Manchester United youth player Danny Webber netting a brace in a 6-0 triumph. Philip Dean, Hapton hitman Gareth Seddon, Jordan Hulme and Sam Madeley completed the rout.
“We got an absolute tonking,” said Wilkes. “They were better than us in 10 out of the 11 positions. Our goalkeeper Sean Davis was absolutely outstanding on the day.
“We needed to compete and look after the ball better but we looked like we were in awe of them.
“I’ve been in non-league football for a long time and they are the best side I’ve come up against as a manager. It was the complete performance.
“Everything just clicked for them. Even their chairman (Karen Baird) and joint-manager Bernard Morley said the same after the game.
“The next nine games will define our season. They will be the ones that decide whether we stay up or go down. People were expecting us to get beat against Salford City.”
• Padiham FC’s remaining fixtures: Brighouse Town (h), Harrogate Railway Athletic (a), New Mills (h), Spennymoor Town (a), Warrington Town (h), Clitheroe (a), Ossett Albion (h), Scarborough Athletic (a), Prescot Cables (h).