Port halt Nuns run­ning off with the points - just

Midweek Visiter - - Sport - SOUTH­PORT .......................................... 1 NUNEATON BOR­OUGH ....................... 1 BY ALAN JONES

BY the end, South­port were re­lieved to sim­ply have their un­beaten run still in­tact. Be­fore kick-off, many will have seen this game against Nuneaton Bor­ough, the bot­tom team in the Va­narama Na­tional League North, as a chance to make fur­ther progress up the league ta­ble.

As it was, the Port needed a stop­page-time equaliser from sub­sti­tute Jor­dan Archer to res­cue a point, ex­tend­ing their se­quence of league matches with­out de­feat to ten.

Hav­ing hit some im­pres­sive heights with their level of per­for­mance in re­cent months, it was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to main­tain those stan­dards in ev­ery game and here they strug­gled to prop­erly get go­ing.

As man­ager Liam Wat­son re­flected af­ter­wards, South­port were sub­dued, lack­ing the in­ten­sity and imag­i­na­tion needed to get be­hind a Nuneaton team who de­fended stoutly, par­tic­u­larly af­ter tak­ing the lead eight min­utes into the sec­ond half.

To South­port’s credit, they kept plug­ging away and, even though clear chances were in short sup­ply, they man­aged to force the equaliser, Archer turn­ing home the re­bound af­ter Mar­cus Wood sent in a cross from the right and Dean Win­nard’s header drew a low save from goal­keeper Cam Ma­son.

It meant that an af­ter­noon of frus­tra­tion ended in rel­a­tive sat­is­fac­tion but the Port know they will need to show more of their re­cent verve if they are to make the most of a run that sees them play four of five league games at home.

South­port’s clos­est chance un­til the equaliser came mid­way through the first half, as goal­keeper Belford saved from Brad Bau­ress, turn­ing his shot onto a post fol­low­ing a Dean Charles cross.

This game was also no­table for in­clu­sion in the vis­it­ing team of Carl Baker, 12 years af­ter he last ap­peared for the Port hav­ing rep­re­sented the club with dis­tinc­tion across four sea­sons.

Baker is now ap­proach­ing the end of an ex­cel­lent ca­reer which has in­cluded time at Portsmouth and Coventry City, among oth­ers, and he was af­forded a warm wel­come by the home crowd.

Once a tricky winger, Baker now op­er­ates from the cen­tre of mid­field and, ten min­utes be­fore the in­ter­val, his dip­ping shot brought a fine save from Port goal­keeper Dan Han­ford.

In truth, both teams strug­gled for at­tack­ing qual­ity but Yusifu Ceesay, lead­ing the line for Nuneaton on his de­but, was a reg­u­lar nui­sance for the South­port de­fence.

He put the vis­i­tors in front, steer­ing home a low, an­gled fin­ish af­ter Devon Kelly-Evans had won the flick-on from Ma­son’s long ball for­ward.

For much of the sec­ond half, that looked like set­tling the is­sue. Goal­keeper Belford made a strong, one­handed save to deny Jason Gilchrist while a shot from Jack Samp­son was blocked on the goal-line by Rhys Sharpe but Archer en­sured South­port left with a point.

Terry Mar­land

South­port in ac­tion against Ch­ester on New Year’s Day

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