Gilchrist tre­ble is not enough as Port search for win

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Martin Mere - BY ALAN JONES

ANEW be­gin­ning had beck­oned for South­port thanks to the bril­liant ex­ploits of Ja­son Gilchrist; but old habits die hard.

Gilchrist had taken Kevin Davies’s team to the verge of vic­tory, but not even his feat of scor­ing the Sand­grounders’ first hat-trick in five-anda-half years could pre­vent this match from reach­ing a cat­a­strophic con­clu­sion for the vis­i­tors.

An af­ter­noon that ap­peared to of­fer South­port their best chance yet to kick-start a fal­ter­ing sea­son ended in fa­mil­iar dis­ap­point­ment as re­cur­ring prob­lems re­turned to leave a sense of de­fla­tion. Lead­ing 2-0 at the start of the sec­ond half and 3-1 with nine min­utes to play, the Sand­grounders con­trived to throw away a seem­ingly un­miss­able op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide them­selves with much-needed re­lief.

A match that should have been no­table for Gilchrist’s ex­cel­lent hat­trick, serv­ing up another demon­stra­tion of qual­ity in front of goal on his sec­ond start, will in­stead be re­mem­bered for al­to­gether dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

Only North Fer­riby United, the bot­tom club in the Vanarama Na­tional League North, have now con­ceded more goals than South­port. The play­ers have changed, as has the team’s shape, but the same flaws per­sist.

When Gilchrist com­pleted his hat­trick on 75 min­utes, find­ing the far cor­ner with an unerring fin­ish af­ter a cross from debu­tant Caleb Richards was al­lowed to pass through the Tam­worth penalty area, it was all about game man­age­ment for South­port.

Just as they did as the first half went on, the Sand­grounders opted to drop deep, try­ing to soak up pres­sure from the home team by de­fend­ing the edge of their own area. They had man­aged to reach the in­ter­val un­scathed, but this time, once Tam­worth had gained mo­men­tum and found a way back, the vis­i­tors’ ap­proach meant they were un­able to stop the at­tacks they had in­vited on them­selves.

It could not have started any bet­ter for South­port, tak­ing the lead in­side five min­utes. Af­ter good work on the left, Jack Samp­son played the ball across the face of goal to Gilchrist to score with a de­ci­sive shot.

While Gilchrist’s fin­ish­ing will earn most of the praise, the self­less work of Samp­son along­side him through­out the match in at­tack was a real high­light for the Sand­grounders.

The early goal ini­tially gave South­port the con­fi­dence to ex­ert some author­ity but they dropped off as half­time ap­proached and Zack Kotwica’s header, which clipped the top of the vis­i­tors’ cross­bar from a Steph Mor­ley cor­ner was one of sev­eral chances that served as a warn­ing.

The sec­ond pe­riod was less than a minute old when Gilchrist struck again to give South­port a two-goal cush­ion with a neat chip over goal­keeper Shaun Row­ley.

Yet from then on, the Sand­grounders’ hold on the game loos­ened. Tam­worth pulled a goal back when Cal­lum Pow­ell crossed to Zack Tay­lor at the far post, only for the ball to re­bound into his own goal off the head of Cur­tis Jones.

Gilchrist com­pleted his hat-trick with 15 min­utes left but as South­port con­tin­ued to con­cede space to the home team, dis­as­ter struck.

Sub­sti­tute Bradley Reid pounced from close-range af­ter good work from Cal­lum Pow­ell, be­fore Con­nor Tay­lor plun­dered a 90th-minute equaliser, head­ing in a right-wing cross from An­drew Burns.

The up­shot is that the Sand­grounders are now hang­ing two points above the rel­e­ga­tion zone af­ter three months with­out a win.

Gilchrist’s start to his South­port ca­reer of­fers the big­gest rea­son to be­lieve that re­sults will turn, but for now those fa­mil­iar faults con­tinue to un­der­mine per­for­mances and form a bar­rier to progress.

Ja­son Gilchrist scores South­port’s and his sec­ond goal at Tam­worth on Satur­day Im­age by Si­mon Mar­shall

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