CHRIS LAWTON believes a settled Runcorn Linnets defensive line was a key factor in him winning the North West Counties Player of the Month award.
The Linnets centre-back scooped the award for stellar January performances in which he formed part of the Linnets’ side which picked up maximum points.
Victories at the Millbank against Bacup Borough, AFC Liverpool and Squires Gate saw the yellow and green hoops jump to eighth in the table with a number of games in hand on those above them.
In the 3-2 victory over Squires gate - Linnets’ last outing due to postponements - Lawton not only marshalled things at the back, but also scored two at the other end to earn his side the points.
The 27-year-old admitted to being surprised at his award, and he believes playing in a settled back four has allowed him to put his best foot forward.
Lawton said: “Its been quite settled this year which has helped. Murph (Neil Murphy) at left back, me and Rob in the middle and Fitzy (Chris Fitzsimmons) or young Jonah O’Reilly at right-back. Playing together every week means you just get an understanding.
“We’ve brought one or two players in but this year seems more settled and a much better atmosphere.”
The former Trafford and Ashton Athletic centre-half and defensive partner Rob Bodie were recently praised by Linnets’ boss Paul McNally.
Linnets’ only defeat in their last six outings came when the pair were both missing and Lawton admitted he feels at ease alongside the former Skelmersdale United man
He added: “I think he (Bodie) was a centre half at Blackburn when he was younger but he came to us as a central midfielder. It was hard at first because he hadn’t played at centre-half for a while.
“We get on well off the pitch as well as on it which I think helps. We just seem to have a good understanding.”
Lawton joined the Millbank outfit late on in November 2010.
Since then, he has made over 60 appearances for Paul McNally’s men.
He admitted the side were at their lowest ebb after defeat at the hands of AFC Liverpool wrapped up a November where Linnets only recorded one win in eight.
Since then, a fine run of form has positioned McNally’s side for an assault on the top five and Lawton believes such a goal is attainable.
“We probably reached a low point after losing to AFC Liverpool but we sat down as a team and had a chat about what we needed to do,” added Lawton.
“At the start of the year we challenged ourselves to push for promotion. It’s a little bit disappointing that November means we fell away a bit but we’re up to eighth now and I think we will be in the top five. We’ve just got to keep winning our games and see what happens.”
Linnets have no fresh injury worries for Saturday’s trip to Squires Gate, with top scorer Rob Whyte still the only regular starter on the sidelines.