Southport manager Liam Watson says they’re putting the blocks in place after securing seven contract extensions this week.
They continued their play-off push with a hard-fought win over Gloucester City thanks to Connor Woods’ wonderful volley.
Woods was among the seven extensions goalkeeper Cam Mason, Jack Doyle, Dylan Vassallo, Niall Watson, Josh Hmami and Charlie Munro signed an extension until 2024 whilst Charlie Oliver signed a further year extension.
Watson explained that the extensions were part of the building process in place at Haig Avenue.
“If you want to build a football club, you don’t the teams, part of the team you’ve got to put little blocks in place, we’ve lost Marcus [Carver] which is a big loss but on the other side if you’d of said we’d have lost Marcus but you’ve tied all the others you’d of been made up wouldn’t you?
“From a football point of view, we decided to go young bringing them through and there’s a lot more progression to go with all of them, we want them here for the better years, the best years.
“It’s not just the five, there will be a few more coming out in the coming days, we put an awful lot of work into it, Tommy [Lawson] behind the scenes does so much for me, the scouting side, which is fabulous for me.
“It’s nice. It’s nice to see, we bring them in, they’re lucky they’ve got a top coach in Terry [McPhillips] who’ll help them develop, his contacts in the higher levels when he’s saying other clubs ‘listen this kids good’ it does go a long way.”
The win away in Gloucestershire pushed Southport further into the play-off positions but Watson admitted that he misjudged their visit.
“I thought we were second-best first half but by far the better team second [half],” he told explained.
“I probably got the shape wrong, I see us up wrong, I misjudged the pitch, the pitch was really poor, it’s a 4G pitch but it wasn’t lively, it was dead.
“It take us a while to adapt, huge advantage for them if they train on it everyday. But showed huge character again, scored a fabulous goal and in the second half looked a better team.
“Our performances from the start of the season have been really good, even when we weren’t winning we were playing well, we just needed a break.
“I think the Guiseley one when we went there it probably gave us that confidence we can go somewhere and get a grip of a game which we did on the night.
“We’re in a good place, sometimes a lot of the time with the manager when you’re winning it’s easy, you’re just picking the team.
“When you’re losing you’ve got protect the players but at the moment, I like seeing some of the young ones flourish and seeing the confidence in the players, the performances, I like seeing the closeness of the players and fans.
With discussions surrounding his assistant and former Blackpool manager Terry McPhillips’ future, Watson remained coy: “I don’t see why Terry would be leaving, I know someone said that to me the other day but my contract ran out in 2020 [laughs] so I’m not that precious, I don’t think Terry is.”
Woods’ superb strike illustrated his integration into the level after suffering with shin splints at the beginning of the campaign after the layoff from the curtailed debut seasons.
In light of Marcus Carver’s exit to League Two side Hartlepool United, the Port boss laid his faith in his current crop of attackers, despite outside claims of reinforcements in the attacking areas.
“One of the big things I was saying, I’ve got faith in them, we’ve got great options up front, we’ve got Jordan [Archer], Connor [Woods], Niall’s [Watson] has had a really good season, got George [Newell] to come back.
“So if you’re looking at it, you’ve got two real good young ones totally different. You’ve got Jordan who’s been around, seen it, his records brilliant at Southport and you’ve got George who you’d describe as our most natural finisher so people going over the top ‘we need to bring in a striker’ anyone tell me why?”
Ahead of the visit of Guiseley, Watson praised their quality, he added: “I went and watched them, they had a good, deserved win against Alfreton.
“There’s similarities with Southport, full of young lads, bit of experience here and there, loads of legs in the team, deservedly won last night [Tuesday] and won’t be easy match.
“I’m wise enough to know when they [the players] need a slap down, I think they had one against Solihull because we got beat and deservedly got beat.
“It enabled me to point out to one or two of them, ‘listen you were second best in your particular duel so if you want to get higher you can’t afford to let that happen so there’s still a lot of work for you to do’.
“I’m always very much don’t disrespect anyone, I came from Sunday league so I don’t ever think I’m better than anyone else and I don’t see why the players should, they’ve got to go an achieve something first.”