STORKS boss Steve Wilkes was once again stumped for superlatives to match the character and attitude of his players.
Following a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Alsager Town at the Arbories earlier in the month, a loss that ended a nine-game unbeaten run, Padiham responded in style with a 4-0 win over Stockport Sports. And Wilkes lavished praise on his players after postponements against Bacup Borough, Runcorn Linnets and Silsden meant that the Storks had to wait a fortnight for the opportunity to bounce back.
“We had a two-week break following a defeat but the lads were straight out of the traps at weekend and were 3-0 up in the opening 11 minutes,” beamed Wilkes. “We played really well. The players were chomping at the bit to get back out on to the pitch and were determined to get back to winning ways.
“The last game we had played was a defeat so that’s the exact response you want and need. They really wanted to put things right and that showed in their performance. We just want the opportunity to keep that momentum going. We are tucked in at the top end of the table nicely. Hopefully people will be talking about other clubs so that we can continue to slip under the radar.”
However, Padiham suffered a huge blow in the 4-0 victory at weekend as skipper Martin Parkes was stretchered off. Scans later indicated that he’d suffered medial ligament damage and is expected to be sidelined for up to two months. Wilkes is now in negotiations with an un-named player as he seeks a replacement for tomorrow’s fixture.
“We suffered a major blow in the win over Stockport Sports because our captain Martin Parkes was stretchered off,” Wilkes said. “Unfortunately he’ll be missing for six to eight weeks now because he’s done his medial ligaments. He’s an influential player for us, he’s been at the club for a long time, and we’ll miss that bite. Negotiations are underway to bring somebody in for the weekend.”
Padiham were hoping to build a consistent base going in to the midweek derby with Colne, the the wintry weather once again scuppered any hopes of the NWC Premier Division clash going ahead. “You just can’t get going,” Wilkes said. “We picked up a great result on Saturday so we wanted to kick on midweek in the derby against Colne but the weather hasn’t allowed us to do that. Fingers crossed that the game against Wigan is on tomorrow so that we can start December by picking up another three points.”
The Storks have already beaten Wigan Robin Park twice this term, with a 1-0 triumph in the FA Challenge Cup in August and a 2-0 victory in the league in September with Ben Allen grabbing the goals on both occasions. Wilkes is expecting a tough test at Loire Drive but is hoping for a result that will see his side nestled comfortably among the upper echelons of the division for the festive period.
“It will be a tough one against Wigan,” he said. “We’ve played them twice this season and beaten them both times but we know it will be difficult. They’ve got one of the league’s in-form strikers in Phil Howard so he’s somebody we will have to watch out for.
“They are a bit hit and miss but we’ve just got to ensure that we carry on where we left off. If we want to progress then these are the games we’ve got to win. We are up there and it’s almost Christmas so we want to try and push on now.”
Meanwhile, the Storks face Wilkes’s former club Bamber Bridge in the quarter-final of the Lancashire Challenge Trophy on Wednesday evening at the Arbories, kick-off 7-45 p.m. Wilkes said: “It will be a great game on Wednesday. I played there for two-and-a-half years so it will be a nice game for me. The last time I came up against them I was beaten 6-0 as Runcorn boss. Ties like that puts the club back in the spotlight because if we win we’re through to the semi-final. That would be great for the club and we’ve got a chance because we’re playing well.”