Southport’s FA Cup campaign begins this Saturday, when the Yellows welcome Bradford Park Avenue to the Merseyrail Community Stadium.
Having enjoyed a televised clash with local rivals Fleetwood Town last season, Southport fans will be eager for this year’s squad to embark on another run to the main draw.
For this to happen, however, Alan Lewer’s side will have to negotiate a tough assignment in the second qualifying round.
Mark Bower’s Avenue come into the game on a seven game unbeaten run, after losing four of their first five games including Southport’s visit to the Horsfall Stadium in August. Their excellent form has seen them leapfrog Southport in the table, and are outside the National League North play-offs only on goal difference.
The form of the Yorkshire side stands in stark contrast to that of the hosts.
Southport have been abysmal in their last three games, conceding 13 goals in the process.
Having started the season so positively, both results and performances over the last two weeks have served as a reminder that the season is nine months long, and success will be assessed at the end of April, not August.
It should be remembered, however, that last season’s FA Cup qualifier against Chester turned out to be a springboard for a brilliant run that looked at the time to be keeping Southport in the National League. Lewer will be hoping that the competition will again prove a turning point as he looks to turn around recent results.
By Christy Byrne