‘It’s a big game’ – Liam Watson heaps importance on Curzon Ashton trilogy as Southport look to keep pressure on playoffs

Southport equaliser vs Scarborough Athletic

Southport manager Liam Watson has admitted that the Curzon Ashton home clash will put their league and playoff ambitions into perspective.

Niall Watson’s first-half opener was cancelled out by Adam Barton as Port were forced to weather a late onslaught from the Nash.

The share of the spoils on Boxing Day was the fourth straight draw for the Yellows but extended their unbeaten run.

But it was a Jekyll and Hyde-type of game for Southport after their promising first-half was followed by a disappointing second-half showing.

“I would say so [a game of two halves], we were better in the first-half, they were better in the second,” Watson told Off The Park.

“It looked like they benefitted from the game they played over the period but if take into account we haven’t played since December 3, so it is a long layoff. It’s like players coming back from injury, it takes them a while to get back into the side so we’ve got everyone coming back, wasn’t ideal but we got a good point, it extends the run in the league.

“We’ve had a run of fixtures where we played the three top teams in the league and drew them all. We beat Chorley then drew away at Kettering which is never easy then we’ve drawn away at Curzon but on the balance of it, you can’t complain,” he added, dismissing any potential worries about recent draws.

“You never go into a game thinking you take a point but on the first-half showing, you’re disappointed but on the second-half showing you’d say it was fair.

“It was similar to the Trophy game, we were miles better than them in the first then they were better in the second so it gives me food for thought for the next game. They’re a good side, got a good manager, got good players so I don’t see them near the bottom come the end of the season.

“We played them a couple of weeks ago in the Trophy so it’s three games in like a month which is never easy, at the end of it you’re probably glad to see the back of it but there’s probably respect between the clubs, the players, I like Curzon, I like the people involved, the manager, you always know you’re going to have a tough game.”

Southport sit ninth going into 2023, just three points off the playoff positions. Their recent draws have meant they’ve faded out of the hunt slightly but Watson remains happy with the recent form and has set out his targets with the season entering the business end.

He continued: “As long as you stay unbeaten, draws become wins, losses become draws, we just keep plodding on. It’s nice we have a full selection [available], nice I can change the squad and it’s nice to have good players and lads around the football club so I’m sure we’ll be fine.

“If you look at it, we’ve played 22 league games, we’re on 33 points, if we can get a win it will put us on 36 at the halfway mark. If you can get 70 points, you’re definitely in the playoffs, it’s a big game for us to put it into perspective and see where we are.

“I’d like to get over 35 points and the only way I can do that is by winning the game, if you think we had a bad spell with injuries at the start of the season, if we come through all that and end up in 36 points I think we’ll be in a very good place.”

[Featured image: Julia Urwin – Southport FC]

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