Padiham are going into a run of games boss Steve Wilkes admits they need to win.
But he is looking up the table, rather than over his shoulder as the Storks look to climb the North West Counties League Premier Division table from their current position of 18th.
Wilkes’ side, champions in their last season at this level in 2013, are five points from the drop zone, but, after bolstering his squad, he is confident of getting some momentum over the second half of the season.
Padiham are at Cammell Laird tomorrow, who are nine points ahead of the Storks in 10th, before they host local rivals Darwen on Boxing Day, and Nelson on January 2nd – although that game could yet be switched to the 3rd.
Wilkes has signed former Clitheroe wideman Dave hankin from Bamber Bridge, and striker Darren Green, also from the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, while Daley Woods has returned to the club, and Michael Aspin was expected to complete a switch from Kendal.
Wilkes said: “These are games we have to win.
“We are 18th, five points above the relegation zone, and we simply shouldn’t be there.
“But we’ve not been consistent enough, that’s been our problem.
“Last Monday we beat Atherton Collieries, who were unbeate in 16, 4-2, and that’s what we are capable of.
“But before that, we lost 3-0 to Abbey Hey, and that’s also what we’re capable of.
“But I’ve brought four new faces in, who have all come down from the Evo-Stik League.
“We know we’re not going to win the league, but we have one eye on next season.
“We have to secure our safety first, but I’m confident we’ll do that.
“The target is the top six, from the position we’re in now, and we’re in the semi-final of the LFA Challenge Trophy, and last 16 of the League Cup.
“We want to finish as high as we can, and hopefully get some momentum for next season, keep the players we’ve brought in, and add to that.”
And Wilkes is excited about the potential impact of his new quartet: “They are all experienced players, at a level above.
“I’ve known Darren since he was 20, and, to me, he’s like a Cantona or Gazza type, he’s a maverick.
“On his day, he will be the best player in the North West Counties, without a shadow of a doubt.
“It’s how you manage him, but he is a friend of my son’s and hopefully that relationship will help.
“Dave Hankin and Michael Aspin are both defenders, and we are looking to keep more clean sheets.
“Dave had a bad knee injury at AFC Fylde, and just wants to get back playing regular football again.
“With Michael coming in, we can move him further forward, and we should be excellent down the right hand side – they could be phenomenal together.
“And it’s good to have Daley back on board as well.”
Wilkes anticipates a tough game at Cammell Laird tomorrow, however: “It won’t be easy there, we have to win the war before we win the football match.
“We played them six or seven weeks ago, and it was one of our best performances of the season.
“We will have to perform as well as we did against Atherton Collieries last Monday.
“Then we are home to AFC Darwen on Boxing Day, if the weather subsides.
“They are a club close to my heart – I was there from 1997-2004, and they gave me my break in management, so I always keep an eye on their results. I was pleased they were promoted last season.
“Then we have another good local derby against Nelson, which we are looking to move to Sunday, January 3rd as there is no one else playing that day, and we want to get as many people down as possible to that.”