Saturday’s first act lacks any X-factor
SOME goalless stalemates are entertaining but this one was as uneventful as the final scoreline suggests.
“It’s a good job The X-Factor is on tonight,” quipped Southport manager Liam Watson after looking back on a 90 minutes that seldom rose above the level of humdrum.
An encounter bereft of quality produced few incidents of note, and while neither set of supporters will be enthused about the prospect of a replay, it will surely be difficult for the teams to serve up another game as turgid as this.
If either team was going find a winner by the end of this third round qualifying tie, it was probably Southport. If Chester had shaded the first half, then the home team certainly showed the greater purpose as the game went on but they were unable to translate it into a goal.
The result brought to an end Southport’s five-game winning run but another clean sheet reflects the clear level of improvement, conceding only twice in six games and extending their unbeaten sequence to seven.
The closest either side came to a deciding goal was on 73 minutes, Southport substitute Devarn Green beating Simon Grand with an excellent show of footwork before playing in Dion Charles, whose shot drew an acrobatic save from Chester goalkeeper Grant Shenton.
Dan Mooney also had a late chance for Chester, turning on the edge of the area before curling a shot over but, as Watson reflected, neither team really merited a goal.
The replay takes place this evening, making it a big week of knockout football for the Sandgrounders, with their Emirates FA Cup second round tie at Tranmere Rovers to follow on Sunday afternoon.
Charles looked to have escaped with a strong run down the right during the early stages.
However, he was stopped by a sliding challenge from Simon Grant and that was typical of how the teams cancelled each other out.
Charles did well again later in the half to work his way into the penalty area but his low ball was saved by goalkeeper Shenton, while Jack Sampson shot wide of the target after Marcus Wood had secured possession in midfield.
Anthony Dudley turned well on the edge of the Southport box before shooting wide, while Shenton also saved a long-range effort from Jordan Richards after the break.
That the Sandgrounders were never likely to concede was a reflection of another sound defensive performance, Ryan Astles replacing the injured Liam Edwards, who sustained a knock in the victory at Boston.
Watson expects Edwards and Jason Gilchrist to return for the visit to Tranmere and with Andy Parry also nearing match fitness, the composition of the squad is approaching the manager’s desired level.
For Southport to have matched a Chester team who occupy sixth place in the Vanarama National League North is again a mark of the progress being made and they will look to provide further evidence of those improvements during the coming week.
Southport put pressure on the Chester FC defence during the teams’ FA Trophy clash last Saturday which ended goalless. The sides will replay the tie tonight.