Padiham boss Steve Wilkes is trying to remain positive after the Storks fell to the bottom of the First Division North table.
It’s now six league defeats in seven for the 2013/14 North West Counties Premier Division champions who were also dumped out of the FA Cup in the preliminary round against Shildon at the Arbories.
But there are glimmers of light seeping through the cloud of pessimism. While Michael Morrison returned to Nelson, Spencer Jordan announced his exit from the club and loanee James Jenkins rejoined parent club Accrington Stanley, Wilkes has been buoyed by the impact of Curtis Haley, the signing of Droylsden defender Lewis Coyle and a return to training for duo Ben Allen and Sam Morris.
“On the bright side, Ben Allen and Sam Morris have returned to training and we’ve signed a 6ft 4in centre half from Droylsden in Lewis Coyle,” he said. “Things are looking up and the return of that duo will be a huge boost. Ben scored 41 goals for us in our title-winning campaign and he’d reached about 18 last season before he got injured. He’s not kicked a ball since Boxing Day in a competitive fixture. To get him back would be great for the football club. We’ve got Curtis Haley as well. We’ve scored five goals in two games since his arrival and he looks a threat.”
Wilkes is looking to neighbours Burnley in hope of drawing inspiration. While the divisions are different, the situation is similar. The Clarets are the underdogs in the Premier League but are proving hard to beat following goalless draws with Manchester United and Crystal Palace. Now the Padiham boss wants to tap in to a similar mentality that Sean Dyche has ingrained at Turf Moor.
“We’ve got to take inspiration from Burnley,” he said. “We feel a bit like them at the moment being the underdog but they’ve tapped in to that and we need to do the same. Like them we’re we’re the smallest spending club in the division but they’re holding their own.
“They are tough to beat. We’ve got to try and emulate what Burnley are doing because we’re like the non-league version of them. We need to start getting results on the board.”
At the moment, though, it’s quite the opposite. The 94th minute heartache suffered against New Mills meant the Storks have conceded 21 goals in seven league outings - the worst in the division.
“It’s tough at the minute,” said Wilkes. “We’re still trying to establish ourselves in this league. We’ve played five very good teams in our first seven games though. We should’ve taken something from the game at weekend. The result against New Mills was the most disappointing of the season so far. We’re bottom of the table. Our confidence has been hit but there’s still a long way to go.”
Ahead of the visit of former club Bamber Bridge tomorrow, Wilkes added: “We look alright going forward but we just can’t keep a clean sheet.
“That’s something we need to improve on.”