Storks hope to pull off upset in cup semi-final

Darren Green
Darren Green
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Padiham boss Steve Wilkes is hoping for an underdog story at the County Ground in Leyland on Tuesday night.

The Storks take on Evo-Stik First Division North play-off chasing Lancaster City in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy Semi-Final, for the right to face holders Chorley at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium.

Padiham, who have never reached the final, reached the last four back in 2013, but, as favourites to progress, lost out to Bacup Borough.

And Wilkes has his fingers crossed that the boot is on the other foot at LFA headquarters: “Three years ago we were massive favourites to beat Bacup, but got beat.

“On the night it was the most disappointed I’ve felt, but looking back, we were able to focus on the league and went on to win it.

“I’m hoping being underdogs this time gives us something of an advantage.

“The game is our season, basically. It’s our biggest game by a country mile.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on the players though, I want them to enjoy it.

“Lancaster are playing very well and aren’t losing many games at the moment.

“I grew up with their manager Phil Brown, and he’s a very good coach, they have good players.

“We have to play at 100% and hope they dip a bit. It’s 11 against 11 and anything can happen.”

Recent signing Darren Green won’t be available, as he is cup-tied having played in an earlier round of the competition for Bamber Bridge.

Before the semi-final, Padiham are at Abbey Hey tomorrow in the league and Wilkes admitted: “Our league position is scary and we need to win games.

“We shouldn’t be anywhere near 17th in the table, but we’ve been too inconsistent, and, collectively, defending has been our nemesis.

“We have to address that in the last 18 games, starting at Abbey Hey.”

Tomorrow’s opponents lie eighth in the table, and Wilkes expects a tough game: “They are a funny side – they beat Atherton Collieries 2-1 on Saturday, then lost 2-0 to Ashton Athletic on Tuesday night.

“They are very good going forward, like ourselves, so there should be goals.

“But we have to improve in the league, and try and put some wins together.”

Padiham lost 4-2 at Congleton Town on Saturday, and Wilkes admitting: “We played well, but our defending came back to haunt us.

“We have conceded far too many goals all season.”