Point made again but still no vic­tory

Midweek Visiter - - Sport - BY ALAN JONES

FOUR matches, four draws: South­port un­der Kevin Davies are noth­ing if not con­sis­tent. Hav­ing suf­fered a run of six straight de­feats be­fore their change of man­ager, the Sand­grounders con­tinue to pro­vide ev­i­dence that progress has been made dur­ing the open­ing weeks with Davies in charge.

Yet while South­port have cer­tainly be­come a more for­mi­da­ble propo­si­tion in re­cent matches, they left the Tame­side Sta­dium still await­ing their first win since early Septem­ber.

A draw at Cur­zon Ash­ton, who have forged a rep­u­ta­tion as a vi­brant team in the Va­narama Na­tional League North with a strong home record, is def­i­nitely a pos­i­tive re­sult.

But to have come from be­hind to lead be­fore re­lin­quish­ing that ad­van­tage with al­most the last kick of the first half meant dis­ap­point­ment was again ev­i­dent in Davies’s tone as he shared his thoughts at the end of a hard-fought en­counter.

Progress was al­ways likely to be steady.

This match had started in fre­netic fash­ion and while it con­tin­ued at a good pace, nei­ther team could claim to have done enough to war­rant the win.

Af­ter fall­ing be­hind, South­port’s best pe­riod came as the first half grew older.

Davies was buoyed by his team’s at­tack­ing play and at the cen­tre of their best work was Jor­dan Hal­lam, the on-loan Sh­effield United young­ster who con­tin­ues to im­press.

Hav­ing won the penalty from which Steven Schu­macher equalised, Hal­lam dis­played a clin­i­cal touch to put South­port in front but, just like the team, sus­tain­ing that level of per­for­mance proved dif­fi­cult.

Davies was right to lament the Sand­grounders’ care­less­ness in de­fence, con­ced­ing for the 28th time in the space of 10 matches, and hav­ing earned the lead, their fail­ure to build on it was a source of deep frus­tra­tion.

The game was only nine min­utes old when South­port’s fragili­ties were first ex­posed, James Bail­lie re­leas­ing Ben Whar­ton, who cap­i­talised on the space af­forded to him in the South­port area to score.

The re­sponse from the Sand­grounders was swift. On 18 min­utes, Hal­lam earned a penalty by draw­ing a foul from Chris Rowney af­ter ven­tur­ing into the area, al­low­ing Schu­macher to con­vert from 12 yards with no fuss.

And with South­port now mak­ing good head­way, it was Hal­lam who put Davies’s team in front, tak­ing the ball around goal­keeper Cameron Ma­son and rolling it home from a nar­row­ing an­gle hav­ing re­acted first to a slip from Rowney.

It looked as though the vis­i­tors would take con­trol, Kaiman An­der­son and Dan Cock­er­line bring­ing saves from goal­keeper Ma­son, but South­port’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity cost them again in added time at the end of the first half.

Goal­keeper Mark Hal­stead pro­duced a fine re­ac­tion save to deny Niall Cum­mins, but the Cur­zon striker prof­ited from the re­sult­ing corner, flick­ing the ball in af­ter Bail­lie had played it short to Jamie Stott.

South­port were never able to re­dis­cover their rhythm af­ter the break, al­though they did dis­play greater re­solve.

Of the lim­ited open­ings, Cur­zon had the stand-out chance but Stott spurned a free header from Joe Guest’s corner and, for the Sand­grounders, the sense of stale­mate is now fa­mil­iar.

Si­mon Mar­shall

On-loan teenage for­ward Jor­dan Hal­lam im­pressed for South­port once again in the Sand­grounders’ 2-2 draw with Cur­zon Ash­ton on Satur­day

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