Samp­son red card sees ri­vals grab late lev­eller

SOUTH­PORT 1 YORK CITY 1 FULL RE­PORT

Midweek Visiter - - Sport - BY ALAN JONES

ALAN LEWER was philo­soph­i­cal as he re­flected on the send­ing off that changed the course of this game, but hav­ing seen his South­port team de­velop a quiet sense of mo­men­tum in the open­ing weeks, he must have known that a good start to the sea­son was so close to be­ing even bet­ter.

Lead­ing 1-0 against sixth-place York City with 11 min­utes to play, the Sand­grounders were in com­mand when Jack Samp­son was shown a straight red card for what ref­eree Martin Woods deemed to be the use of an el­bow in an aerial chal­lenge with Hamza Bencherif.

Within three min­utes, York had equalised through Sean New­ton, and while the gen­eral con­sen­sus was that a draw was fair, South­port left the pitch with a sense of what might have been.

The Sand­grounders re­main in third place in the Vanarama Na­tional League North af­ter ex­tend­ing their un­beaten run to six matches - a start that the man­ager ad­mits has sur­passed his ex­pec­ta­tions.

Although South­port and York were rel­e­gated from the top level of NonLeague foot­ball last sea­son, the clubs have un­der­gone con­trast­ing sum­mers.

While York have bol­stered their squad, Lewer has had to as­sem­ble one from scratch, and this re­sult is fur­ther ev­i­dence that the South­port play­ers have gelled quicker than many would have ex­pected.

York are re­garded as one of the favourites for pro­mo­tion and if this was the first in a run of six matches against ar­guably the strong­est teams in the di­vi­sion, then Lewer will take great en­cour­age­ment from an ac­com­plished show­ing.

At the time Samp­son was dis­missed, South­port were firmly in the as­cen­dancy, forc­ing York back and cre­at­ing enough chances to have added to their lead.

York are an ex­pe­ri­enced team and in at­tack they boast the power and pedi­gree of Amari Mor­gan-Smith, Michael Rank­ine and Jon Parkin, all of whom have op­er­ated at higher lev­els. In that re­spect, South­port can take great credit for they way they con­tained a ro­bust for­ward line, par­tic­u­larly as the vis­i­tors ap­plied pres­sure in the fi­nal stages.

Af­ter a tight first half, Gary Roberts put South­port in front on 56 min­utes, guid­ing a lofted shot over goal­keeper Jon Worsnop from a nar­row­ing an­gle af­ter re­ceiv­ing a long ball for­ward from the ex­cel­lent Cur­tis Jones.

Ar­guably the best chance of the open­ing half came right at the start but Bencherif did not an­tic­i­pate that he would be left alone in­side the six-yard box from New­ton’s deep free-kick, send­ing his shot straight at goal­keeper Iain Turner.

York shaded the first half and South­port needed Turner to make a par­ry­ing save from Louis Al­mond’s low an­gled shot be­fore push­ing wide a 20-yard drive from New­ton af­ter the York mid­fielder had won the ball from Brad Jack­son.

Yet the Sand­grounders be­gan the sec­ond half with real in­ten­sity and, once ahead, they looked to turn the screw. Ethan Jones shot wide and Alex Fletcher blazed the loose ball over af­ter goal­keeper Worsnop had punched Jack­son’s cross.

Samp­son also went close af­ter a good turn had opened up a way to goal, but the striker’s dis­missal was the cue for a York fight­back.

No sooner had Samp­son walked than New­ton’s cross-shot drifted in from the right wing, over the back-ped­dling Turner and un­der the South­port cross­bar.

The Sand­grounders stood strong in the face of York pres­sure, but goal­keeper Turner had to make his most im­pres­sive save of the game, turn­ing Parkin’s stop­page-time ef­fort around the near post as South­port’s good start goes on.

PIC­TURES: SI­MON MAR­SHALL

York re­pel an­other at­tack from the home side, who have made a fine start to sea­son

SI­MON MAR­SHALL

GRAND FIN­ISH . . . Gary Roberts pounces to put South­port ahead against York

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