Padiham boss Wilkes hungry for derby date

Lancashire Telegraph: Steve Wilkes Steve Wilkes

FORGET the Christmas Day leftovers, Steve Wilkes likes nothing more than getting his teeth in to a good Boxing Day derby.

Wilkes takes his in-form Padiham up the A59 to take on Simon Garner’s out-of-sorts Clitheroe.

The Storks are unbeaten in December while the Blues are without a win in their last five games.

But as Wilkes is all too aware of, form goes out of the window when it comes to a tasty derby day clash.

“Is this the right time to be playing Clitheroe, probably not, but you can’t beat a good Boxing Day derby match,” said the Padiham boss.

“It is the game most players and fans looked forward to. It was certainly the game I enjoyed more than most when I was player.

“You get a decent crowd on, the spectators turn up wrapped up in their new hats and scarfs and their is always a good atmosphere.”

Wilkes has more reason to be full of festive cheer than his counterpart Garner at Clitheroe.

The Shawbridge side’s play-off hopes have stuttered in the last five games, losing three times and drawing twice.

In contrast, Padiham are unbeaten in three and have just made it back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season.

“Of course you look at the form of other sides but you have to be wary of them as well,” added Wilkes. “Football is all about confidence and Clitheroe will be feeling a little low after their recent run and we have hit a little bit of form.

“But we lost every game in November before bouncing back so we know how it feels.”

Thomas Bradley is doubtful for Padiham after picking up a knock in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Ossett Albion while Louis Mayers plays his last game before serving a three-match ban.

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Clitheroe haven’t won since beating Radcliffe Borough 4-0 last month but they are just eight points off the play-off places — something Wilkes believes his newly-promoted side still have an outside chance of achieving.

“Had we won on Saturday, we would have been 12 points off the play-off places,” added Wilkes. “That is something I have told my players that is still achievable.”

Padiham begin the day in 18th spot but a win could see them climb six places.

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