Hard work pays off for the Port
JACK Sampson has urged his team-mates to take the positives out of their FA Cup journey that ended at Haig Avenue last week.
Southport lost to Tranmere Rovers in the second-round replay but bounced back immediately in National League North against against Ashton United on Saturday.
Sampson and David Morgan gave the Sandgrounders a 2-0 lead before Jordan Richards’ unfortunate own-goal with 15 minutes remaining gave Ashton hope of a dramatic comeback.
Liam Watson’s side held onto their lead, however, and Sampson did not underestimate the victory which took Southport three points clear of the relegation zone.
“It’s massively important. The league is the most important thing,” he said.
“We were disappointed on Monday [against Tranmere] but obviously we have to take the positives out of it.
“Christmas time there’s a lot of games coming up and where we are in the league we don’t want to be.
“There’s a lot of games coming up and we hope we can [move up the table].”
The 25-year-old forward, who started his career at Wigan Athletic before joining Bolton and having spells at Morecambe and Macclesfield Town, also believes the brilliant cup run has helped turnaround their league campaign.
The Haig Avenue outfit are unbeaten in six National League North games following a difficult start to the campaign and Sampson praised the unity within the squad.
“It was brilliant,” he added when asked about the FA Cup journey.
“You’re in the limelight and it’s a massive thing confidence-wise. People are watching you and you’ve got to perform.
“The lads did that. We’ve did well and I think it’s gone into the league. It just shows. Obviously we had a tough start but we’ve gelled now and we’re all sticking together. It’s paying off.” BY ALAN JONES
ON a heavy pitch, in deteriorating conditions and against determined opposition, this was an afternoon for Southport to roll up their sleeves and grind out a result.
Having started the week in the spotlight of the Emirates FA Cup, a different kind of focus was required as the Port returned to league action at Ashton United.
Due to their commitments in a number of knockout competitions, this was only Southport’s second Vanarama National League North fixture in five weeks, making an immediate return to winning ways all the more important.
From the disappointment of their cup exit, the Port dusted themselves down to claim a valuable three points as they look to continue the momentum generated in recent months.
Jack Sampson and David Morgan scored in either half to earn Southport maximum points at Hurst Cross, meaning they have now collected 14 points from six unbeaten league games. Manager Liam Watson was quick to highlight the perseverance shown by a battling Ashton side. No sooner had Morgan added Southport’s second than the lead was reduced back to a single goal, ensuring the visitors had to withstand a difficult final 15 minutes to see out the result.
Ashton had started the game a point behind the Port and, on the back of a heavy loss against Stockport County in the week, they deserve credit for the way they made Watson’s team work for their win.
Southport could not have asked for a better start, Sampson winning possession and breaking through the Ashton defence before sliding a low finish past goalkeeper Luke Pilling inside two minutes.
The visitors’ start was good and in a half of few chances they should have added to their lead, Dion Charles bursting forward before squaring to Brad Bauress but he placed his shot wide.
Ashton presented an increased threat as the half went on, goalkeeper Dan Hanford twice saving well from Liam Tomsett before Matty Chadwick, a regular danger to the Port defence, shot over.
Having seen Dean Winnard turn the ball home after an initial effort from Charles only to be denied by an off-side flag, the visitors did increase their lead when Morgan found the bottom left-hand corner in style from outside the area.
It represented a rare moment of quality in a contest made difficult by the heavy rain and muddy conditions but within five minutes Ashton were back in the game.
After cutting in from the right, Chadwick curled a wonderful effort against a post and in the scramble that followed, Jordan Richards inadvertently turned the ball over his own goal-line.
That was the cue for an Ashton flurry, Watson making a double substitution in an attempt to bolster his team’s resistance, as Tomsett went close with two chances but Southport stayed strong.
Ashton United (4-2-3-1): Pilling, Chalmers, Jones, Reagan, Askew, Kay, Goulding, Tomsett, Sheridan, Chadwick, Martin (Anghel 80).
Subs not used: Roberts, Crowther, Hill, Howarth.
Southport (4-2-3-1): Hanford, Richards, Edwards, Winnard, Ogle (Astles 80), Wood, Morgan, Charles (Archer 80), Green, Bauress, Sampson.
Subs not used: Davies, Mohammed, Morgan-Smith.
Referee: Amy Fearn
Man of the match: David Morgan
David Morgan in action for Southport against Tranmere