Southport manager Liam Watson hopes their Lancashire Senior Cup win over West Didsbury and Chorlton can be a springboard until the end of the season.
Port claimed their 10th triumph in the competition thanks to a 2-1 win over the North West Counties First Division North champions.
The win comes after a torrid run in the National League North which has seem them slip down the table and out of favour in the race for the playoffs, although they could still break into the top seven as the gap sits at five points.
This weekend they travel to league-leaders Gateshead looking to cause an upset. Watson told Off The Park: “It helps the players development because some of them have never won before, it was quite funny looking at them they didn’t know what to do at the end.
“They’re going to gain massive experience from it which is only going to lead them into wanting to win again because they know what it’s like, for the football club it’s another notch on the honours board which can never be taken away but for a lot of these lads it’s the first time they’ve won a medal so it’s good.
“That’s what you hope (it’ll be a springboard) over my career I’ve often found that after you’ve had a win, when you’ve gone and won something it’s amazing the reaction you get, we’ve just got to go Gateshead, full of honesty, endeavour and have a right good go and get a result to keep it going.
“We’d of liked to have been competitive all the way along but the results have fell off at the backend, sometimes that happens. All the players have had spells where they’ve done really, really well and then they’ve had a few where they’ve had injuries and come back but that doesn’t mean to say they’ve become bad players.
“It’s nice to see the likes of Josh (Hmami), Niall (Watson), Connor (Woods) are all getting 90 minutes yesterday (against West Didsbury and Chorlton) because they’re coming back from long-term injuries and it’s probably the first time they’ve all played 90 which is good.
“We’ve fell short with a lack of goals but the lacks of goals, people will always point to Marcus (Carver) leaving, it obviously is a factor. But I had great belief that George (Newell) and Connor could plug that gap but unfortunately them to have been injured, it’s left all the leg work and everything on Jordan Archer that’s not entirely fair because Jordan had a good relationship with Marcus, so he’s got adapt his game slightly to play on his own but I think that was his 19th goal of the season last night so be nice for him to finish with 20.
“Let’s just give a good account of ourselves. There’s more pressure on Gateshead, they’re going to win the league, they’re going to want to win the league, only one goes up (automatically) them and Brackley, two points in it. We’ve got to try and stay in the game as long as we can, let them get bit jittery and see what we can do going forward, the longer we’re at zero in terms of goals conceded the more it’s going to mount on Gateshead.”
During their run which has seen them winless in 10 and bottom of the form guide, there has been some lesson’s learned for the experienced manager, he added: “You’ll always learn a little bit about the players who sometimes have to be mentally stronger. There’s an element with Tyler (Walton) that we’ve got to find his best position, I think we’ve done that.
“There’s bits and bobs as we go along, young lads when they come back from injury always struggle because they think they’re going to be at the level they are before they got injured and that doesn’t happen like that, it’s actually learning to deal with injuries as well.
“At the start of the season, the idea was set out between the board which is me, Steve (Porter) and Ian (Kyle), (as a club) let’s be in and around the playoffs, let’s win silverware and see what we can do developing players. Sold two in the Football League, won the Lancashire Trophy and we’re still talking about the playoffs going into the last week of the season.
“It’s got to be hasn’t it (ambitions are higher next season) the players, you’ve worked with them a lot longer, they’re a year older, a little bit more clued in and there’s probably an element that we’ve figured out with the players we’ve got what we’re best off playing from that point of view. I think we go in a lot more settled than we did last summer.”