Satur­day’s first act lacks any X-fac­tor

Midweek Visiter - - Sport - BY ALAN JONES

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.

Rick Matthews

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.

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