As the make-up of the squad continues to change, Southport’s form now also seems to be turning.
No sooner had the Sandgrounders ended their long wait for victory than supporters witnessed an even rarer occurrence at the Merseyrail Community Stadium on Saturday: a routine Southport win.
This was a second triumph in as many home games for Kevin Davies’ team and the destination of the points was rarely in doubt as they comfortably saw off Leamington.
The addition of three more players to the Southport squad on Friday took the total number of signings since the appointment of Davies in October to 14.
And if the announcement of those latest arrivals generated a sense of excitement among the home crowd before kick-off, then what followed whetted the appetite further, as supporters saw a performance that they hope is a glimpse of things to come.
Having been deprived of a win while the squad underwent an extensive rebuilding programme, Davies and his recent signings are starting to make a difference.
This was arguably the most rounded performance from a Southport team since Davies took charge – playing some sharp football in the first half with a number of eye-catching individual showings – and while they definitely remain a work in progress, the improvements are clear to see.
There was much to admire about Southport’s offensive play, in particular. Dion Charles, one of the three players signed on the eve of this match, was the Sandgrounders’ most vibrant attacking threat until his withdrawal due to a hip strain early in the second half.
Charles impressed with his direct running and nimble footwork, while Adam Dawson, the former Tranmere Rovers attacker also making his first start, was prominent in much of Southport’s good work.
The extent of the change in recent months is such that Jack Sampson was the only player to start this match who was playing for the Sandgrounders before Davies arrived.
And it was Sampson who put Southport on their way on nine minutes, steering the ball home with conviction after Dawson, deployed to good effect on the right wing, cut the ball back into the path of David Morgan.
Sampson started as the central striker before moving to the left wing as the match went on. Dropping deep, linking the play and bringing others into the game, Sampson does some tireless work in making the team tick, often with his back to goal, and here he showed a lot of what he does best.
The renewed confidence brought about by Southport’s recent improvements was shown in the construction of both of their goals.
The Sandgrounders proceeded to dominate and, after two earlier misses, Charles skimmed the top of the Leamington crossbar with a delicate shot from Dawson’s smart back-heel.
With Charles a constant nuisance on the left and Dawson scurrying around from his position on the right, Southport used the wide areas to good effect. Suddenly, the supine performances at home to Blyth Spartans and Bradford Park Avenue seemed a distant memory.
There were times when Southport dropped off but a break from Daniel Udoh midway through the first half, resulting in a shot being placed narrowly wide, was the one chance they conceded.
The Sandgrounders made sure of the points on 70 minutes, Jason Gilchrist applying the finishing touch to a clinical counter-attack after receiving a through-ball from Morgan.
Morgan featured in the two goals and was arguably the pick of the players, directing the flow of the game from central midfield, and things, for Southport, now seem to be fitting into place.
Southport (4-2-3-1): Worsnop, J Richards, Howson, Priestley, C Richards, Morgan, Lynch, Dawson, Gilchrist, Charles (Smith 54), Sampson.
Subs not used: Halstead, Jackson, Kpohomouh, Lowe.
Leamington (4-2-3-1): Breedon, Taundry (Mace 67), English, Hood, Gudger (Felix 78), Gittings (Revan 78), Clarke, Dunbar, Edwards, Obeng, Udoh.
Subs not used: Canavan, Magunda.
Referee: Anthony Tankard
Report by Alan Jones