Former Storks boss Steve Wilkes is saddened to see the club’s slide

Padiham FC management duo Adam Morning (front) and Michael Morrison
Padiham FC management duo Adam Morning (front) and Michael Morrison

Former Storks boss Steve Wilkes is saddened to see the club sleep-walking towards relegation in the Hallmark Security League Premier Division.

Wilkes’s Northwich Victoria condemned Padiham to their ninth defeat in 11 games as they continued to plummet towards the bottom two.

Robert Doran netted a second half hat-trick for the visitors, the striker’s second treble in six fixtures, after Joel Brownhill had given them the advantage at the interval when converting from the spot.

Padiham - now governed by Adam Morning and Michael Morrison - had flirted with the top flight’s leading pack once upon a time this term but, incredibly, they’re now just three points clear of 19th place Hanley Town.

“They are in a mess,” said Wilkes. “We won 4-0 and it wouldn’t have flattered us if we’d have scored 10. We missed some big chances.

“They were beaten 8-0 by Ashton last month and it looks like that result wasn’t just a one-off. They were poor and unless they recruit some players they’re going down.

“I don’t want to stick the boot in to the players or the managers because I know them well, but it’s so sad to see a football club where I spent 10 years of my life dead on its feet.

“Looking from the outside in the club is in a real mess and it sickens me to see it like that. I didn’t celebrate any of the goals on Tuesday night.

“I really don’t want to stick the knife in but it’s sad to see how that football club is being run. It’s not my problem anymore but it’s in a shambolic state. Under Alan Smith, though it was quite regimented, it was one of the best non-league clubs around.”

Wilkes spent the best part of a decade during two spells at the Arbories, guiding the club to the runners up spot in Division One during his first instalment while securing promotion to the Evo-Stik League as champions in the sequel.

And, because of that affiliation, the Trickies boss admits that he takes no satisfaction from seeing the Storks in their current predicament.

“I hope they survive because I had some fantastic times there,” he said. “I didn’t enjoy seeing that midweek and I’m not just saying that.

“It was awful to watch, a really bitter-sweet victory. They’re in trouble, they’re in a relegation battle.

“It’s such a shame because I felt we were going places during my time there. We were building something. It was a traditional non-league football club but now its dead on its feet.”

The inexperience of Morning and Morrison may count against them in this sort of situation but Wilkes believes they’ve got the character and the qualities to succeed.

“The new management team has got one hell of a job on their hands to try and keep that football club up,” said Wilkes.

“It’s going to be tough but Michael Morrison is a fighter. He’s a real winner. If they can bring three or four players in and instil that belief and that will to win then they’ll have a chance.

“Adam Morning has been a fantastic footballer at this level, they’re both very good, and I think they’ve got to play.

“They’re too good to be standing on the sidelines. I’m not teaching them to suck eggs, they know what they need to do.”

Padiham travel to Yockings Park tomorrow to take on Whitchurch Alport, who sit one place and five points above them in the league.