Blue Square Bet Premier
Saturday 19 November 2011 - Haig Avenue - kick off 3.00pm
||Garner, Simpson, Gallinagh, Jones, Clough, Connolly, Burnell (Phillips 90), Watkins, Russell (Hogg 64), Cook (Stonehoue 75), S Canham. subs not used: Rollo, Murray.
|man of the match:
||S Canham (76)
||S Canham (58), Clough (71), Jones (90)
|league position: 24th
||next match: Dagenham (H)
Report taken from
Last year it was Bath City that performed a smash-and-grab raid at Haigh Avenue, scoring three second- half goals to beat their luckless opponents 3-2. It was a season that saw Southport relegated and then reprieved after Rushden & Diamonds went out of business.
This afternoon the high-flying Sandgrounders returned the compliment, with Tony Gray’s two late, late goals further cementing City’s position at the bottom of the Blue Square Bet Premier table after they had opened the scoring through Sean Canham with 12 minutes to go.
For the first 45 minutes it was hard to tell which side was in fifth position and which was propping up the table as City began confidently.
In the early stages Marley Watkins made all the running for the visitors. First, he fired narrowly wide on 11 minutes after a fine passing move involving Alex Russell and Adam Connolly.
Eight minutes later, Watkins ran in late on a corner and forced keeper Tony McMillan into a desperate scramble for the ball, which he only managed to gather at the second attempt.
Jamie Cook then fired straight at the keeper inside the box when he perhaps should have made more of his shot.
With Canham gathering the knock-downs it was the lively Watkins who posed the biggest threat. Just after the half-hour mark a good pass from Connolly saw the winger running on and again McMillan was forced into a desperate save.
While it was not exactly all City, Southport rarely threatened Glyn Garner’s goal. Instead they were forced into using Andy Owens’ throws as their most potent weapon, with his ability to fire the ball at the heart of the City defence, while the impressive Shaun Whalley made darting runs down either flank.
Leading goalscorer Tony Gray seemed strangely subdued with any real threat being cancelled out by the work of Charlie Clough and Garner.
Yet if City thought they had contained the home side they very nearly came undone just four minutes before the interval when Whalley made a fine run down the right before putting in a low, penetrative cross. City were exposed at the back post and with three Southport players racing to get to the ball Karl Ledsham was only inches away from sliding it into the net.
The home side began to pile on the pressure after the break and on 53 minutes Garner blocked a shot from Whalley before flicking the ball away from Gray. The lively Godfrey Paku then produced a piledriver of a shot which Clough did well to knock behind and it began to look only a matter of time before Southport would open the scoring.
City boss Adie Britton then shuffled the pack, bringing on Lewis Hogg for Russell, and within ten minutes the switch paid dividends.
A fine run from Watkins saw the midfielder lay the ball off to his right for Hogg. He then put in a cross which Canham met with a glancing header to put the ball into the net.
Could City hang on for the most unlikely victory? Cruelly, the answer from the home side was no.
With just a minute of time remaining City failed to clear a corner, the ball fell to Gray on the edge of the 18- yard box and he fired home.
City’s misery was then compounded just two minutes later. With the game already into a surprising five minutes of stoppage time - surprising in that neither physio had been on the pitch - came another corner and another failed clearance. This time Gray used his head to score his 11th league goal of the season.
For City it was a cruel end to an otherwise creditable performance, but one that leaves them 11 points adrift of the safety zone ahead of Wednesday night’s FA Cup replay at home to Dagenham & Redbridge (7.15pm).