EVAN HORWOOD dedicated his match-winning strike at Southport to Chester boss Jon McCarthy.
Chester ended a winless run which stretched back to January 7 with a 1-0 success at Haig Avenue, Horwood’s acute lob over Magnus Norman sealing the victory on 67 minutes.
Horwood was keen to remind the Blues’ fans that McCarthy is still only in his first full season as manager, and immediately ran over to the boss to celebrate his goal, which moved Chester up to 11th in the National League.
“It’s a massive win because we could easily have lost that game,” the 30-year-old said.
“We’d have then been going into Tranmere with five defeats in a row, so the lads showed some real character to win and it was really well deserved.
“We’ve been doing a lot of analysis on the defensive side of things, what we needed to be doing, the gaffer has put so put work in.
“I’ve been getting some stick from the lads in the dressing room for running over to him and giving him a high-five when I scored, but I know the work he’s put in and he deserved that today.
“It’s the gaffer’s first job and we’ve all made a few mistakes over the past few weeks, and we’re not where we should have been. It’s not from a lack of trying, we’ve been trying everything but it’s just been one of those periods.
“Overall we’ve been creating chances and goals, so it was important to get back to the drawing board and keep the clean sheet.
“I know the gaffer deserved that and we haven’t deserved to be on the losing side in some of these games we’ve lost. We’ve had some good performances but that’s how football goes at times.”
Latching on to Alex Lynch’s long ball downfield, Horwood’s lobbed effort seemed to take an age to come back down but it dropped right into the net and he explained: “I just gambled really, I knew it was downhill, so I’ve gambled on it.
“Obviously I’ve had the shot, I’ve tried to lob the keeper but I didn’t mean for it to go as high as it did! Fortunately in the end it was a good finish and I was happy to get three points.”
Andy Preece’s Sandgrounders threw everything at Chester in the final 20 minutes, twice hitting the woodwork, but the Blues stood firm and recorded a first shutout since mid-December.
Horwood was deployed on the left-side of midfield and explained he is happy to play wherever he is asked by McCarthy.
“It was a tough second-half, we were put under a lot of pressure. We didn’t get much of the ball and it was tough,” he added.
“I don’t mind where I play, and it works well with me and (Johnny) Hunt down that left side and (Craig) Mahon is coming back now too so it gives us competition and it’ll be tough to stay in the team.
"At the end of the day I could be working in a shop, so I’m doing the job I love and I’ll just keep my head down and if I get picked then it’s great.”
Southport boss Preece was disappointed his side couldn’t find the net despite creating chances.
“I thought the first-half was pretty even,” he said. “They hit the bar with their one clear cut chance, but we had lots of opportunities in and around their box.
“For whatever reason (we couldn’t convert them) whether that is us taking a gamble, or us being on the front foot or having a bit of luck with the ball bouncing our way.
“We just couldn’t get the ball to go in and the first-half ends 0-0 and we’re reasonably happy, but I thought we might struggle in the second-half against the wind.
“But we pretty much dominated the whole of the second-half.
“They’ve scored from pretty much their only attempt.”
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