Southport boss Liam Watson discusses playoff prospects ahead of Brackley clash

Southport's Charlie Oliver in action.

Southport manager Liam Watson is looking forward to this weekend’s test against Brackley Town.

Their win over Hereford further strengthened their place in the playoffs as they moved into fifth, overtaking Chorley in the process.

Charlie Oliver scored the only goal of the game from the spot as Cameron Mason was heroic between the sticks denying the Bulls from a penalty of their own.

It could’ve been a more comfortable scoreline but loanee Lewis Mansell missed a guilt-edged chance in the dying moments.

Brackley sit second four points off league leaders Gateshead with two games in hand. But for the Southport boss, he feels it is a great test for the Yellows.

He told Off The Park: “It’s a great test for us, where we are now, it’s a realistic proposition to be in the playoffs. If you’re in the playoffs, you’re going to come across the likes of Brackley, it’ll be an unbelievable opportunity and test where we are against them.

“When we played against them down there, it was a very tight game, they got a break from a set piece which was incredibly fortunate.

“We cleared it and it just hit someone on the back and came back in, in general play I don’t think they overly hurt us. I think we’re going to be a lot better than we were when we went there but the last 20 minutes I thought we were strong so hopefully we can start [on Saturday] as we finished. 

“We just need to get back on a consistent run. We are pulling wins out, we had really good wins at Telford and Hereford. But I’d like to think Doug [Tharme] comes back into the team, I’d like to think Jordan Archer comes back into the team. We are getting bodies back, it’ll be a good test.

“I think we had to dip into getting back to basics. Let’s go back to being very hard to beat that got us on the run in the first place and we did. Hereford didn’t worry me at any stage, they got given a penalty whether it was or wasn’t, I personally didn’t see it.

“Once they give it, they give it, Cam [Mason] saved it. I don’t recall them having a shot on goal so it was about as comfortable as 1-0 wins can be.

“We missed a couple, I don’t know how [Lewis Mansell] he’s managed to do it, a yard out with an open goal and he’s managed to miss. They were a good team to play after getting beat. 

“We’ve always been built on the back of a strong defence, a lot of good teams are, we always believe we’ll score. So if we get back to not conceding, chances are you win the game.

“There’s an element of us getting that in order, we always seem to get a goal whether it’s from a set-piece or… we play a lot on the counter-attack so when teams come out and attack, you tend to pick them off, which we did on Saturday. As I say, 1-0 – on the balance of play – flattered Hereford. 

“I come away from the Blyth defeat, I never had any complaints at all, the simple fact is you take six or your main starting XI out, of any team, you’re not going to be the same team are you? You’re just not, that’s where it becomes difficult but we showed a good reaction, good response, that’s all we can ask for.”

Last week saw Isaac Buckey-Ricketts depart to Northern Premier League side Warrington Town on a temporary basis as he went in search of first-team minutes.

Watson explained: “It’s trying to help Isaac [Buckley-Ricketts] he hasn’t been getting lots of game time, that’s while Josh [Hmami] and Niall [Watson] have been missing.

“What I would say, now Josh and Niall are back that’ll make it even harder for Isaac, it was good he was able to go out and get games, it’s good he actually wanted to go out and get games because you get some who actually don’t and quite happy not playing. Showed a bit of desire, which is good. 

There was some concern for the returning George Newell who was forced off through injury last weekend but thankfully it wasn’t as serious as first thought, Watson revealed: “It was a bad challenge, the actual injury you thought would’ve been the back of his head because they came through the back of him. But when he’s fell, he’s landed on his knee, it’s not a twist or anything more just a bang. He got up, ran it off a little bit, and then got caught on the same place.

“He come off, Connor [Woods] come on, Connor’s looked the best he’s looked for a good while.”

[Featured image: Julia Urwin – Southport FC]

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