Wilkes wants players out of comfort zone

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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With Padiham’s promotion challenge slipping in recent weeks, boss Steve Wilkes has accused a pocket of his squad of being too relaxed in games.

In terms of the table, the Storks have very little to play for as the top five fight it out for the Hallmark Security Premier Division title.

The former Preston North End midfielder had guided his side to a fruitful stretch that brought 31 points from 11 fixtures, which pushed the club closer to the contenders.

However, the 3-1 loss to Atherton Collieries in December inflicted a switch in mentality, and the Storks have won just once in their last five outings since.

Wilkes, who believes that some of his players are operating in their comfort zones, said: “They need a kick up the back side. People have slipped into their comfort zones and there are still 14 games remaining.

“Some of the players simply aren’t good enough, some of them need to step up to the plate and because we had been on a good run, some of them dropped in to their comfort zones. We need to snap out of this.

“I’m looking ahead to next season now, and I’ve already spoken to four players who have agreed to join us. We are actively looking towards next season.”

Wilkes feels part of the transformation owes to a change in system, as an injury crisis forced the Arbories boss to change from a 4-3-1-2 formation to 4-4-2.

And he added that the personnel within that shape failed to adapt. After the goalless draw with Cammell Laird 1907, Wilkes said: “We’ve played 4-4-2 for the last three games and scored just one goal.

“We will be switching back at the weekend. We just don’t look threatening going forward in that system.

“We changed for the final 10 minutes against Runcorn Town and scored twice. It didn’t work out against AFC Liverpool, but we lost Garry Hunter and Martin Parkes to injury and we didn’t have the personnel to revert back.

“But they are back to full fitness now, along with James Walker, so we should have enough fit midfielders to go back to the system that we were doing well with.

“There will be one or two changes again. The three lads coming back on Saturday should give us a boost.

“We were originally playing 4-3-1-2 but systems don’t win football matches, players do. I just think we got in to a rhythm of playing a certain way and we didn’t grasp the change.”

Wilkes, who has signed teenage full back Conor Dockerty on recommendation from Hunter, is hoping to alter his fortunes against West Didsbury & Chorlton on home soil on Saturday, kick off 3 p.m.

Padiham have yet to beat their next opponents and in the previous meeting - a 5-3 reversal in the LFA Challenge Trophy - Wilkes was sent off.

“We’ve lost four games against them and we’ve only played four times,” he said. “They beat us with the last kick of the game at their place earlier in the season, and they beat us 5-3 in the cup when I was sent off.

“Hopefully we can put it right on Saturday. We owe them one.”