Storks boss Wilkes geared up for First Division North survival battle

Steve Wilkes.
Steve Wilkes.

Their respective battles may be different, but the ambition to succeed is similar.

While the Clarets maintain their push for the Championship’s automatic spots, and consequent promotion to the Premier League, Steve Wilkes is hoping his battle to retain Padiham FC’s status as an Evo-Stik First Division North club also ends in triumph.

Though six levels separate the two clubs in the football pyramid, there’s less than six miles between the pair geographically. Wilkes acknowledges the gulf in standard, but is encouraging Turf Moor’s thousands to back the Storks when the opportunity arises.

“It’s tough for us, obviously with the local competition. We’re at home tomorrow but so are the Clarets. They keep clashing, but hopefully they’ll come to support us in our battle when Burnley are away.

“We’ve definitely got a battle on our hands. While the Clarets are battling for promotion to the Premier League, we’re fighting hard to stay in this division. They’re different battles, but like Burnley, we’re looking forward to ours.”

With just eight points separating the Storks and the division’s trap door, Wilkes is praying for an improvement in form. Ramsbottom United are the visitors to the Arbories tomorrow, kick-off 3 p.m.

A brace from Kieron Pickup secured maximum points at the Riverside Stadium in the fourth fixture of the campaign, but in November when Jordan Hulmes’s hat-trick knocked the Storks out of the Lancashire FA Trophy.

“Our next three league fixtures are at the Arbories. Obviously we want to make home advantage count but they’re all tough games coming up. We never set targets at the club but we would be happy with five points from the upcoming games.

“It’s a local derby and we’ve done okay against our local rivals this season.

“If we perform like we did against them in the league earlier in the season then it will be a good game. However, if we play like we did against them in the Lancashire Cup then it won’t.

“Their managers (Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley) have done a great job. They’ve put together a settled side with experience at this level.

“It’s a strong group, and that’s why they’re flying high and pushing for promotion.”