Storks show fighting spirit in boss’ absence

Padiham FC V Ashton Athletic FC at The Arbories, Padiham.'Padiham FC (Blue) V Ashton Athletic (Yellow).'Padiham's Manager Steve Wilkes.'22nd August 2015
Padiham FC V Ashton Athletic FC at The Arbories, Padiham.'Padiham FC (Blue) V Ashton Athletic (Yellow).'Padiham's Manager Steve Wilkes.'22nd August 2015
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Steve Wilkes was hundreds of miles away when 10 man Padiham earned a hard fought point against Runcorn Town but for very good reason.

The Storks boss was at St George’s Park, the training base of the England national team, to watch daughter Olivia feature for Manchester United in the FA Womens Youth Cup final against Arsenal.

The Gunners went on to win the tie 5-1 but the result failed to take the gloss off a proud day for Wilkes.

“They got beat but it was a fantastic day,” he said. “I’m so proud of Olivia. To stand there watching her at St George’s Park with the national anthem playing before the FA Cup final was very special.

“That moment is something that will stay with me forever. It was such a proud moment for me and I was crying like a baby. They were beaten by a much better side but it was a fantastic day.”

Meanwhile, at the Arbories, Padiham fought back from a goal down with a numerical disadvantage to draw 1-1 and make it just one defeat in 10 outings.

Rob Ablewhite gave the visitors the lead on the hour and 10 minutes later Storks stopper Michael Donlon was given his marching orders for violent conduct.

Midfielder Sean Cookson donned the gloves for the remaining 20 minutes of the fixture and pulled off a superb save to deny Paul Shanley.

Aaron Taylor then squandered an excellent opportunity to level the game when foiled by Danny Leaver from thee yards out.

However, Padiham persevered and got their reward in the 80th minute when Reece Parker cut in from the left hand side and bent the ball in to the far corner.

The hosts, who lost striker Kieron Pickup to a hamstring injury, almost secured maximum points in stoppage time as Garry Hunter’s free-kick swerved around the wall but cannoned back off the crossbar.

“It’s a great response to fight back and salvage a point with 10 men,” said Wilkes. “We’ve lost just once in 10 games now. We’ve been performing really well.

“We’re still trying to push in to that top 10 and there’s 18 points to play for so we’ve got a great chance.”

Padiham entertain Congleton Town at the YESSS Electrical Arena on Wednesday evening with kick off at 7-45 p.m.

The Bears had embarked on a 14-game unbeaten run, winning 11 of those, before being thrashed 5-2 by lowly AFC Blackpool at the weekend.

“That’s the North West Counties Premier Division for you,” said Wilkes. “It’s an incredibly tough league.

“It’ll be a difficult game because they’ve been on a great run. However, we’ve been on a good run ourselves so we’ll go in to the game with a lot of confidence.”

Wilkes is hoping to have Jake Townsend, Alex Murphy and Dave Hankin back for the midweek game.