Steve Wilkes was frustrated with his players as they ‘threw the towel in’ against league leaders Bootle, losing 6-1 after taking an early lead.
Having lost 1-0 against AFC Liverpool last week, Padiham returned to Merseyside on Saturday to face table-topping Bootle, who had won their previous two games 7-1 and 9-0.
The Storks got off to a good start, taking the lead after 13 minutes through Joel Melia. But after going in 2-1 down at half-time, Padiham collapsed in the second half.
Wilkes said: “At half-time I told the boys, ‘the longer it stays at 2-1, the more anxious their players are going to get.’ Five minutes into the second half we were 4-1 down.”
Disappointed with the lack of responsibility his players showed, Wilkes accused his players of ‘bottling’ it.
“Some of them were just spineless,” he said. “And a Steve Wilkes team doesn’t have players who bottle it. They let me down, and they let the club down.”
Going forward, the former Preston North End midfielder has said he wants his players to show more fight.
“They owe me a performance on Saturday,” Wilkes said. “We’ve lost twice in Liverpool in the last two games, when the players needed to roll their sleeves up and dig in.
“I want to finish in the top five. That’s the challenge the players have been set.
“We had some key players missing on Saturday, but the players who came in should’ve stepped up to the challenge a lot better than they did.”
Wilkes has made it clear that changes are to be expected for the trip to bottom of the league Cammell Laird on Saturday, who are a sizeable 19 points from safety in the Hallmark Security Premier Division.
Ahead of the trip to the North West Construction Stadium, Wilkes said: “I would’ve preferred a team higher up the league, because if we win against Cammell Laird, it still doesn’t show that we are up for the challenge of competing for top spot.”
“In order to mount a title challenge, we need to be beating teams near the top of the table.
“We need to win against the teams above and around us if we want to be competitive, and the players need to realise this.”
Wilkes has made it clear that challenging for the title is the target for next season, and that four or five new faces, as well as better performances from the current squad, are needed if this is to be achieved.
“Top players consistently put it in, and that is what separates them from the average players. I expect a reaction from my team on Saturday.”