Steve Wilkes expressed his delight after 10-man Padiham mounted a late come back to claim a point away at AFC Blackpool on Tuesday night.
The Storks squandered the opportunity to take the lead when leading scorer Kieron Pickup blazed a penalty over the bar and they were punished when the hosts were awarded a spot kick of their own.
After Andrew Fitzgerald was dismissed for violent conduct in the 52nd minute, Matthew Muscroft took on the responsibility from 12 yards out and converted to open the scoring. The home side then doubled their advantage five minutes later through Richard Seear’s strike.
With time ticking away Wilkes opted to tinker with his system, introducing Reece Pearce and Alex Murphy at the expense of Jake Townsend and Pickup while reverting to a 4-2-3 formation.
It was substitute Murphy who had a significant impact on the outcome as he reduced the arrears in the 85th minute before winning the spot kick that was converted by new man Garry Hunter in stoppage time.
“It was a strange game,” said Wilkes. “We missed a penalty and then five minutes later we’re down to 10 men and a goal down.
“But we showed great character to come back and scoring the equaliser in the 94th minute made it feel like we’d won the game.
“I’ve got nothing but praise for my players after that. We know we should be beating teams like that and if we’d have scored that penalty and kept 11 men on the field then I think we would.”
Wilkes added: “We’ve got to be pleased with that though. To get a point after trailing 2-0 with 10 men with five minutes remaining is brilliant.
“My players deserve a massive pat on the back. We’re disappointed not to get three points but I’m ecstatic and proud with the character that they’ve shown to come back.”
Padiham travel to the Delta Taxi Stadium to take on Bootle on Saturday and Wilkes is hopeful that the midweek display will prove to be the turning point, particularly for Murphy.
“He’s been low on confidence,” said Wilkes. “He’s had problems with his hamstring but he made a huge contribution to the game. I’m hoping that will kick him on.”