Lethargic Port no match for Harriers
AWEEK is a long time in football, as Southport will testify. Seven days after they moved into third place in the Vanarama National League North by putting Darlington to the sword, the Sandgrounders departed the Merseyrail Community Stadium having found themselves on the wrong end of a heavy scoreline for the second match in succession.
After the 6-0 loss at Stockport County in midweek came another rude awakening for Alan Lewer’s team, as they were taken apart by Kidderminster Harriers in a match that again made for distressing viewing.
By the end, victory for the visitors was all too easy, as they took advantage of a Southport team lacking energy and the resolve on which their good start to the season had been built. The opening month of a nonLeague season is always demanding, and having played their 10th match in the space of five weeks and seen a relatively small squad hit by injury, Southport will be pleased that there is only one more midweek match to play before the fixture schedule eases.
The bad news is that it comes against Harrogate Town, the division’s early pacesetters, tonight at the Merseyrail Community Stadium (kick-off 7.45pm)
Disappointing as their display was, Southport will reflect on two moments which should have changed the outcome of the encounter.
Having started the game with plenty of possession, Yves Zama missed a golden chance to have put the home team in front on eight minutes, being played clean through on goal after Steven Schumacher had exchanged passes with Steven Jennings, only for the Port player to direct his shot at Brandon Hall with the Kidderminster goalkeeper to beat.
Southport fell behind midway through the first half, but shortly after the re-start Chris Sang was culpable of a similar miss after receiving a pass from Zama when unmarked in the Kidderminster area.
Within a minute, the visitors had added a second goal, and there was to be no way back for a jaded Southport who struggled for ideas and intensity.
Concentration was also a missing element from Port’s performance.
Kidderminster took the lead in the 27th minute. As the ball rebounded around the Southport area from a Joshua Webb corner, Emanuel Sonupe’s shot was blocked and Dominic Smith sliced a clearance against his own crossbar, leaving Will Longbottom to prod home the loose ball at the far post.
The goal changed the course of the game and, with Kidderminster seeing more of the play, it was from another Webb corner that Longbottom almost scored again but he was denied by the legs of goalkeeper Mark Halstead.
Kidderminster added to their lead seven minutes after half-time. Curtis Jones tried to play his way out of trouble on his own by-line but was caught in possession by Longbottom, who squared the ball for Andre Brown to stab home.
The ease with which Southport were exposed from open play for the second match running will be a real concern for Lewer.
For the first time this season, the manager had started with a different shape, swapping his preferred threeman defence for a 4-2-3-1, but it did little to remedy the problems that surfaced on Tuesday at Stockport.
Brown finished the afternoon by adding his second and Kidderminster’s third in style, finding the top right-hand corner with a 25-yard thunderbolt as Southport wilted.
ALAN LEWER says the arrival of new investment in Southport can be the start of an exciting chapter for the club.
The appointment of businessman Phil Hodgkinson to the board at the Merseyrail Community Stadium last week has seen the playing budget increase as the Sandgrounders target promotion.
Southport are at home to Harrogate Town tonight and are giving away 500 free tickets and making a further 500 available for just £4, as the club looks to get the town on board and attract increased crowds.
Tickets for the game against Harrogate are available from the club office during the day and ahead of kick-off in the club shop – and Lewer says that there is real sense of positivity.
“It’s a great boost to have Phil on board,” Lewer said.
“It’s fantastic that Phil wants to invest in the team and take the club as far as it can go.
“As a management team, that’s music to our ears.
“Other than our last match, we haven’t let many people down this season.
“We’ve got to invest in the team and hopefully that will take us to the next level. When we arrived here, we said that we want to achieve as much as we can.
“We have said that we want to be in the playoffs at the minimum and people in the town should know that we’re not just here to make up the numbers.
“With Phil’s backing, we’re going to be building the squad to make sure we get there.
“There’ll be nothing better for us than to get the club back to where it belongs and I know Phil has ambitions to take it further than that.”
Harrogate are the leaders of the Vanarama National League North with only one defeat from their opening 10 matches.
The team from North Yorkshire have themselves received significant investment and on the pitch they have won four of their five away games, scoring five goals for the second time this season on Saturday to beat Telford United.
Southport are also at home on Saturday in the Emirates FA Cup second round qualifying against Bradford Park Avenue.
Southport v Harrogate Town, tonight, kick-off 7.45pm.
Southport v Bradford Park Avenue, Saturday, kick-off 3pm.
Southport’s defence is put under pressure in the clash with Kidderminster Harriers at the Merseyrail Community Stadium last Saturday afternoon.
Action from Southport’s clash with Kidderminster Harriers at the Merseytravel Community Stadium last Saturday afternoon.