Padiham are plugging the gap on the Hallmark Security Premier Division’s leading pack but joint boss Liam Smith isn’t entertaining thoughts of promotion just yet.
The Storks have bridged the cenote between themselves and both Runcorn Town and Runcorn Linnets considerably since Smith jumped on board with Dixon Lambert.
The divide currently stands at 11 points but, ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Abbey Hey, the Ruby Civil Arena chief is focussed on leapfrogging the sides above them in the table.
With just three points separating seventh place Storks from fourth place Charnock Richard, Smith said: “I think the damage was probably done early doors. Runcorn Town have been on a good winning spell but we’ll still be looking to win every single game that we play.
“We need to focus on one game at a time and see where that takes us. We’re not even half way through yet so there’ll still be plenty of twists and turns.
“We’re not thinking about winning the league this season at the moment but we’ve still got to play Runcorn Town twice. Our next goal is to climb above the teams ahead of us.
“We won’t look too far ahead because it’s a very demanding division. If we can find some consistency then we can propel ourselves up that table and creep up on the teams at the top. We’ve just got to keep at it and keep closing the gap.”
Padiham have now fallen behind in seven of their last eight games, hitting back to win four of those while sharing the spoils in another.
That sequence has caused Smith’s stress levels to heighten on the touchline and he’s hoping that defeat to Charnock Richard in the quarter-final of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy midweek will serve as a lesson to his squad.
The hosts went behind to Matt Davison’s 38th minute goal at the Arbories, only this time they failed to recover.
David Sherlock added a second for the visitors before the break while Carl Grimshaw made it 3-0 early in the second half.
Padiham pulled a goal back on the hour through Ben Hoskin but they were unable to fight back to join Clitheroe, Chorley and Lancaster City in the final four.
“I think we suffered a bit of a hangover from Saturday,” said Smith. “It was quite a sapping performance against Northwich Victoria.
“It was a fantastic display and it took a bit more out of us than we thought. Either side could’ve won it in the end.
“I think it was probably one game too far for us. It was disappointing to go out of the cup but I can’t argue with our league form.
“We are really happy with performances and results in the league at the moment. We’ve just got this bad habit of going behind. It’s a nasty trait which makes things hard work for us.
“The positive is that we’ve shown character, resilience and grit to come back. They just never know when they’re beaten but the tie against Charnock Richard might have taught them a lesson. We’ve got to be at it in both halves to be successful.
“I would love for us to get a clean sheet. Some games have probably been a bit too expansive. The mantra at the moment seems to be that we are going to score more goals than the opposition.
“They are very open games and we need to be able to take control of them more. We’ve got players who are more than capable of taking hold of games and we need to take a stranglehold.
“Chasing games is just physically and mentally draining and you can’t keep getting away with it.”
Padiham will be without Jake Hargreaves this weekend as the winger serves a two-match suspension while Adam Freeland and Kenny Taylor will also miss out.