Padiham boss Steve Wilkes has declared the weekend fixture against New Mills as the biggest game in the club’s history.
With just seven games remaining and four points separating the two sides at the foot of the Evo-Stik First Division North, Wilkes insists the encounter at the Arbories is a ‘must win’.
If we can then climb off the foot of the table, that might be a great psychological boost for the playersSteve Wilkes
“It is desperate because we’ve obviously got to start winning football matches,” he said. “We’ve been saying this now for three months unfortunately.
“If we get beat tomorrow and we go seven points behind New Mills having played two more games, then it’s a massive ask.
“The game is probably the biggest game in Padiham’s history. We’ve got New Mills at home. When you talk about ‘must win’ games - we can’t afford to lose that one. It’s as simple as that. I think it’s do or die.”
The Storks suffered a huge setback when the Millers overturned a one-goal deficit to beat Warrington Town 3-1 on Tuesday evening.
Nathan Burke had given the hosts the lead as early as the second minute but Brandon Windsor, Rhys Nevins and Daniel Forde replied for New Mills.
Manchester United fan Wilkes, who watched Saturday’s opposition at Cantilever Park midweek, said: “If we beat them we put pressure on them with six games to go.
“If we can then climb off the foot of the table, that might be a great psychological boost for the players. It’s probably a bigger game than the one at Anfield the day after!
“I’m ever the optimist. We’ve got seven games left and I think we can win seven, even though we’ve only won three all season. People might think that I’m talking stupid but I’ve got to think that way. This is a huge, huge game.”
And Wilkes maintains that survival would be a bigger achievement than gaining promotion from the North West Counties two years ago.
“To win the league on the budget that we had two years ago was just phenomenal,” he said.
“If we can stay up this season then it’ll be a bigger achievement than what we did two years ago. Hopefully the lads can do it.
“It would be massive if we dropped down. Two years ago we worked so hard to get here. Nobody expected us to get promoted and they didn’t expect us to be where we are now. “
He added: “We want as many Burnley fans as possible, who can’t make the Southampton match, to come out and support us in our big game.”