Lethar­gic Port no match for Har­ri­ers

Midweek Visiter - - Visiter Sport - BY ALAN JONES

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.

Si­mon Mar­shall

South­port’s de­fence is put under pres­sure in the clash with Kid­der­min­ster Har­ri­ers at the Merseyrail Com­mu­nity Sta­dium last Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Si­mon Mar­shall

Ac­tion from South­port’s clash with Kid­der­min­ster Har­ri­ers at the Mersey­travel Com­mu­nity Sta­dium last Satur­day af­ter­noon.

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