Southport manager Liam Watson has heaped importance on their trip to Buxton.
The Sandgrounders make the trip to Derbyshire in their sixth consecutive away match, the last in a lengthy-spell on the road.
Their current record in the sequence is one win, two draws and two defeats – coming against Hereford and controversially at Blyth Spartans.
They come up against a Buxton side under new management since their last meeting after Jamie Vermiglio was replaced Craig Elliott. Following the appointment of the former Matlock Town manager, they have enjoyed an upturn in form including three wins out of a possible five.
This weekend as well as the trip to Silverlands, they face the prospect of playing on an artificial surface but as they sit six points off the playoffs, the Port manager says it’s in “their own hands”.
“It’s strange, they’ve gone from a team who couldn’t win to a team who can’t stop winning,” he told Off The Park. “The plastic pitch is something we’ve got to get used to, all in all, it’ll be interesting but a really entertaining.
“In our league, the first goal is always huge, as in all the leagues it’s massive. We’ve got Spennymoor to quickly follow then Hereford, we’ve got a run of games we’re making sure if we’re at it and up for it, there’s points to be gained.
“I had a match report done on them so if we play anywhere near we did when we played Buxton we’ll be out of sight. It was one of the most false scorelines you’ll see in your life, we played well and somehow come away getting beat 4-1 and with the last 10 minutes I thought we’d get back into it but it wasn’t to be.
“If we can win Saturday, you can say six games all away from home, three really long trip and if you can come away with two wins, two draws, two losses, I think you’d have taken that at the start,” he added. “It’s really big for us. We’ve just got to play well, I say to you every week, if we play well if we’re a good side.
“If we’re off it and the other team play well, it makes it a tough afternoon, all in all, the balance of the season it’s mid-February, we’re still right in the mix for the playoffs, games in hand and an awful lot of home games. It’s in our own hands.
“The last two games have been really in the poor first half, Chorley then really good in the second-half. Against Hereford, really good in the first half then really poor, you can put it down to a little bit of fatigue from the travel, it has been a tough ask but that’s footy, it’s never easy,” he explained, noting the magnitude of travel from their recent run which saw midweek trips to Blyth Spartans, Darlington and Hereford.
“Yeah, I think we have struggled in the fact we hadn’t been playing regularly but I won’t be able to say that from now on in because the games are going to come thick and fast Saturday, Tuesday right the way through until the end of the season.”
There was no game last weekend due to Banbury’s involvement in the FA Trophy. They returned to action in the Liverpool Senior Cup against AFC Liverpool.
After a much-needed rest, Watson added it was the perfect game to comeback to after a break from National League North action.
He continued: “Fair play, I thought AFC made a really good account of themselves, wasn’t an easy game. We ddid have several good opportunities to score which you’d think was the case but it was great for a lot of the players who haven’t been getting gametime due to injury, illness and one thing or another, it’s been very stop start from December onwards, really pleased with the attitude.
“We didn’t treat them with any disrespect, take them lightly, we did everything right just couldn’t get the goal and it took us until the 87th minute to get the goal so be it. Kept a clean sheet, got into the semi-final, night done, mission completed.
“We’ve aimed from the start of the season, I’ve said openly and on record that I take the County Cups very seriously, we have and they’ve all been tough games. Through to two semi-finals, Ashton Athletic in the other, if you win that you’re in another final, that’s got to be the aim.”