Despite suffering six defeats in their last seven games Southport manager Andy Preece remains confident that his side can escape relegation from the Vanarama National League.

The former Northwich Victoria manager replaces Steve Burr as Sandgrounders boss in early February, with four games bringing one draw and three defeats.

The latest loss came with a 4-2 defeat at a Maidstone United side sat just five points and two places above the relegation zone.

Next up is a trio of games against sides in the lower reaches of non-league’s top tier.

On Saturday they host a Torquay United side sat in twenty first position, before travelling to eighteenth placed Braintree Town.

And then they make the trip to improving York City, the side currently sat one place and one point above them in the table.

With those huge games awaiting his side Preece believes that he has seen enough from his newly-inherited squad to give him hope that they can beat the drop.

He said “We can definitely still stay in the division.  The performances haven’t been too bad; we just always find a way to throw away the points.

“We are doing a lot of good things but we aren’t getting the wins to back them up.

“The lads are giving their all and we have been in all of the games I have seen so far.

“We are making individual errors and they are killing us.  As a manager it is my responsibility to eliminate them from our game and to get the players to concentrate for ninety minutes.

“It’s not too far of a stretch to say we could have taken points in all four of the games I have been here, but we haven’t done that and we must deal with it”

Southport face eleven games left in their National League campaign and the target for Preece is simple; to win every game.

And the former Blackpool and Bury striker is relying on past experience of an escape from relegation to give him the belief the Sandgrounders can do it again.

He said “When I went in at Northwich Victoria they were pretty much down.

“We won all six of the remaining games when nobody gave us a chance to do that but we did it.

“It is possible and we know we are at a level where it will be tough to do that but we do know we can do it.

“We played Dagenham and Redbridge, who are doing well at the top of the league and we have played Chester, they are pushing on in mid-table.

“We have a good indicator of the level of opposition; we know the quality in the league.

“But we have also seen this season that anyone can beat anyone in this division.

“We will always keep believing”

Preece has been busy in the transfer market as he looks to rejuvenate the Southport squad.

Within days of his appointment he completed a permanent deal for midfielder Kevin Da Veiga Montiero and a loan deal for Barrow’s Lindon Meikle.

Dover Athletic midfielder Jim Stevenson also joined on a temporary basis, whilst former Port favourite Louis Almond returned on loan from Tranmere Rovers.

And on Friday Preece signed Luton Town goalkeeper Craig King on loan, a deal that saw fellow stopper Mason Springthorpe released by the club.

The Port boss isn’t ruling out more new additions but believes that it will be tough to add the players that he wants.

“You always look to strengthen” admitted Preece.

“It’s not easy to do that, it’s very tough at the moment and the transfer window has made it even more difficult.

“Understandably clubs don’t want to let players go in case they pick up injuries or suspensions and they need the cover.

“We will keep trying to bring in new players but they can’t just be anyone.  We need to make sure we bring in the right players to help us improve”

Despite the club’s struggles Preece is clearly relishing the challenge of helping them preserve their National League status.

Preece left his role at Welsh club Airbus UK Broughton last August, where he was employed as the club’s Director of Football.

His appointment at Southport saw him return to the National League for the first time since he spent time with Carlisle United as a player in 2005.

And he is enjoying returning to a level he describes as “challenging”.

He said “Obviously I am not enjoying the results, that is clearly obvious.

“But the level of the competition, the calibre of the managers I am going up against, it’s very challenging and I am enjoying it.

“I’ll keep working hard and try to get the extra bits we need from the players.

“We can get out of it and I will enjoy the challenge of trying to help us do that”.

Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Image: Reuters Media

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