PADIHAM get their Lancashire Challenge Trophy campaign under way tonight with boss Steve Wilkes urging his side to go one better than their run to the semi-finals in 2012/13.

Wilkes will field a strong side at Atherton LR in the second round of the trophy as he targets a cup run for his inconsistent side.


The Storks are a disappointing 16th in the North West Counties Premier Division, having struggled to string a run of results together so far this term.

Their opponents sit 12th in the First Division North, having won just one of their last nine matches.

“It gives the lads the chance to play at a Football League ground in the final because it is at Bolton so we will be taking it really seriously,” said Wilkes.

“It’s high on our agenda this season. We had a great run three years ago, we beat Lancaster and Bamber Bridge but lost in the semi-finals to Bacup.”

The competition has been dominated by Chorley and AFC Fylde recently, with those two sides winning the last five editions.

Having received a bye in round one the Storks enter the competition tonight, with Wilkes hoping for a bit of luck.

“We’re in the last-16 now so you win two games and you’re in the semi-final,” he said. “You need a bit of luck with the draw, if you get AFC Fylde or Chorley, the closer to the final they put the big guns out.

“One of them will be in the final every year, but they may draw each other sooner rather than later.

“We played very, very poorly in the semi-final (three years ago), but funnily enough I think it helped us win the league that year. The distraction from preparing for a final was taken away from us.

“At the time it was one of the lowest points of my managerial career, because semi-finals don’t come round very often, but it was the best thing that could have happened to us.”

Padiham have re-signed Daley Woods, who returns having left in the summer to sign for Welsh League side Mold Alexandra.

Heavy rain across the north west could yet put tonight’s cup tie in doubt, but if it does go ahead Wilkes does not expect it to be easy on the eye for spectators.

“If the game is on it isn’t going to be a football match it’s going to be battle, it’s not the best pitch in the world,” he said. “We’ll have to roll our sleeves up.

“We’re confident going into every game but we’re very inconsistent.

“We’re coming off the back of a bad result at Squires Gate, that was a poor second half display. It was unfortunate Saturday’s game was called off.”

Colne are also in second-round action tonight, hosting Holker Old Boys, while AFC Darwen are at Lancaster City.