LIAM Smith is hoping there is cause for celebration for Padiham tomorrow, on his return from a three-match ban.

The Storks’ joint manager was sent from the dugout in a 3-1 defeat at Widnes in February.

But six postponements since then means that Smith has only just served his punishment.

He hopes it is a well-timed return though, with Padiham at home to Winsford United and the possibility of a big crowd given that neighbouring Burnley and Accrington Stanley are not in action this weekend, and an offer of half-price entry for season ticket holders of both clubs.

Smith, a life-long Stanley fan, said: “Accrington have been quite vocal and Andy Holt (the chairman) has been in touch and says he’s coming to the game and a big group of supporters are too, so it will be good to catch up with them.

“And with Burnley not having a game either we are hoping for a really good gate and three points.”

He added: “I’m itching to get back. It’s been the longest three-game ban ever.

“I had a few choice words with the referee in a moment of frustration, but it’s taught me quite a few things, especially with the length of it.

“Nothing beats being involved on a Saturday at three o’clock.”

But Smith has tried to use his time away from the dugout wisely.

“We’ve still trained when we can and I’m in constant communication with Dixon (Lambert) as we live round the corner from each other,” he explained.

“I’ve done a lot of scouting - I was at Winsford on Monday and I’ve watched Runcorn, who we play next Tuesday - and I’ve watched a couple of players who we are looking at for next season.

“And I’ve managed to see all the games back because we’ve got a production company that films all the games. They put them on a DVD so I’ve been privy to all three 90 minutes.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t make it three out of three, but there’d have been calls for me to stay banned if we had.”

Padiham, who have re-signed popular striker Jay Hart, led 2-0 away to City of Liverpool on Wednesday night, but the Merseysiders hit back to lead 3-2. Danny Boyle scored an 84th minute equaliser and looked on course for a point until the home side scored a last minute penalty to clinch it.

“To take a 2-0 lead and not come away with three points is disappointing,” said Smith.

“We made four errors in the game and get punished for all four, which doesn’t happen often.

“But there’s no time to sulk, we’ve got 17 games left in a very short space of time and we’ve got to focus on them, starting with Winsford.”

Second bottom AFC Darwen were also in NWCL Premier League action on Wednesday, suffering a 5-0 defeat at home to Northwich Victoria, with four-goal Brian Matthews the destroyer in chief. They will hope to bounce back with a win when they host bottom placed Barnton tomorrow.

Barnoldswick Town, meanwhile, are at home to Maine Road.

In the NWCL First Division, Nelson will look to improve on the point they had to settle for at Daisy Hill on Wednesday, but know they will have their work cut out at high flying Whitchurch Alport.

Bacup, beaten 3-1 at Litherland REMYCA in midweek, host St Helens Town, who are a place and two points below them in 20th.

In Evo-Stik North, Clitheroe entertain struggling Radcliffe Borough and will hope to revive their play-off push after picking up one point from their last two games. Colne are at home to second bottom Brighouse Town, while Ramsbottom United travel to South Shields, who sit second top.