Storks boss Steve Wilkes has hailed the weekend win against Northwich Victoria as one of the biggest in the club’s history.
After losing four Northern Premier League First Division North fixtures on the bounce in November, as well as being dumped out of the Lancashire FA Trophy by Ramsbottom United, an 88th minute Kieron Pickup winner in the 3-2 triumph at the Arbories effectively pulled Padiham from their slump.
The Vics, managed by former Preston North End winger Lee Ashcroft, who was absent due to a 10-match touchline ban, were playing Conference football five years ago and had featured in big games in the FA Cup. During the 2005/06 term, they travelled to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland in the third round of the competition, while in 2009 they had ties with Charlton Athletic and Lincoln City televised.
“We played well again,” said Wilkes. “But we were 2-0 up on Saturday and almost threw it away. It was nice and probably the biggest result in Padiham Football Club’s history. They were playing Conference football not so long ago so it’s a great scalp for the club. I remember watching them on TV in the FA Cup a few years ago so for us to be beating a team like that is a massive feather in our cap.
“Lee Ashcroft is one of my best mates in football but he couldn’t attend the game because of his ban. I think he’s definitely capable of managing a Football League club. It makes it a bit more special to beat clubs with people like that affiliated to them. It was a big scalp but the three points is the most important thing. It was good to get back on that winning track. I never felt that the club put me under any pressure at any time but I was relieved because it helps your own personal pride as there’s a certain level you want to be at.”
The victory saw Padiham climb a place in the hierarchy after Prescot Cables lost to Ossett Town. Ahead of tomorrow’s game with mid-table Mossley at Seel Park Wilkes added: “If you take the Cammell Laird game out of the equation, where we let ourselves down, we probably should have won two of the home games that we lost. We had to win on Saturday after failing to pick up a point in November.
“We need to get on a bit of a run now to get away from the bottom end of the division. I’m delighted for the players more than anything and that will help boost their confidence. It was nice for the atmosphere in the dressing room to pick up again.”
Meanwhile, the club was given a major boost with news that leading scorer Kieron Pickup had committed his future to the club. The 19-year-old, with 11 league goals to his name, had attracted interest from Evo-Stik Premier Division sides Ashton Athletic and Witton Albion and turned down substantial financial packages from the pair to remain at the Arbories.
“Kieron Pickup is staying after turning down a move to Witton which I’m massively pleased with because we thought we’d lost him last week,” beamed Wilkes. “We had a good chat, and then I spoke to his dad, and then he rang me to say that he was staying.
“He’s turned down a considerable amount of money because that doesn’t influence him. He’s just interested in learning his trade at Padiham over the next 18 months. He’s got a fantastic attitude and he’s a great character. He loves the place and his family come down to watch every week. He’s a very good player and he’ll play at a much higher level one day.”