Seasoned striker Paul Fildes has been helped back on to the non-league ladder by Storks boss Steve Wilkes.
The pair were first united in Wilkes’s first spell at the club, when Fildes scored 76 goals in just over two seasons at the Arbories.
That prolific ratio enticed Wilkes to re-acquire the services of the marksman during his tenure at Runcorn Linnets in 2009, which saw Fildes score a hat-trick on his debut against Squires Gate after joining from AFC Fylde.
Fildes had been guiding North West Counties Premier Division side Barnoldswick Town through a period of transition, but the player-manager was replaced by former team-mate Stewart Airdrie after being dismissed from the Silentnight Beds Stadium.
“I’m happy to have Paul with us because I’ve got a lot of time for him,” said Wilkes. “When I first came here, Paul got me 76 goals in two seasons. I took him to Runcorn with me when I went there as well. I used to speak to him on the phone every week when he was the manager at Barnoldswick. I’ve got a soft spot for him.”
Wilkes added: “He understands the situation with the club, and knows the calibre of forwards that we have, but he’s knuckled down, done everything we’ve asked of him, and looked sharp in training. He would’ve been on the bench at the weekend. He’s a goalscorer and has got a lot of experience at this level so he’s a valued addition.”
Wilkes, who is also looking to add former Skelmersdale United, Bamber Bridge and Runcorn Linnets forward Neil Black to his squad, has endured a turbulent campaign in the club’s inaugural season in the Evo-Stik First Division North, with injuries causing major interruption to Padiham’s progression.
“I’ve not had a full squad all season,” Wilkes said. “That’s not an excuse, that’s a fact. Jack Overson hasn’t played since October and Elliot Dunn hasn’t kicked a ball since the first game of the season. He’s now gone over on his ankle when out running as well so is likely to miss the rest of the season.
“Spencer Jordan has played three games all season and has hurt his back again so that’s another setback for him and his brother Lewis, who has been out since August, has done his groin.
“He’ll be missing for a few weeks now. Then there’s last season’s top scorer Ben Allen who got 41 goals for us. He hasn’t played since Boxing Day and we have no idea when he’ll be back.
“We are missing some key players, and players that would’ve helped us at this level. The injuries just aren’t going away. We’ve been hit hard. But defender Kieran Fletcher has returned and that’s been a huge boost for us.”
The Storks are desperately searching for a win after losing their last five. Now, with Radcliffe Borough adding to the pressure after beating New Mills 4-0 at the weekend, Wilkes acknowledges the importance of beating the clubs around them in the final run-in.
“It wasn’t really a good result for us but we’ve still got to play Radcliffe twice,” he said. “We’ve still got Ossett Albion, Wakefield, New Mills, Prescot Cables and Cammell Laird to play as well. They’re all teams around us so we need to be taking something from those games.
“We are disappointed to be where we are but we just need to get through this season now. We know what we need to do and what we need to add to improve and compete at this level. We’re still eight points ahead of Wakefield in the bottom two as well with two games in h