Port stand tall on the big occasion to frustrate Rovers
BY ALAN JONES
BIG games require big performances and not only did Southport deliver in emphatic fashion at Prenton Park on Sunday, they secured a result with a goal worthy of the occasion.
Brad Bauress found the target in magnificent style to earn a fully-merited draw for the Sandgrounders against Tranmere Rovers, ensuring their name featured in the third round hat on Monday night.
Southport’s performance against a team ranked two divisions and 59 places higher was exceptional and by the time the final whistle sounded in front of the brilliant 766 travelling fans, it was the visitors who had looked the most likely to find a goal to settle this Emirates FA Cup tie at the first attempt.
As it is, the teams will meet again at Merseyrail Community Stadium to decide who progresses and their showing here means Southport will approach the replay with relish.
Bauress struck with 20 minutes remaining, receiving a pass from Marcus Wood before unleashing a 30-yard thunderbolt which arrowed past the outstretched Scott Davies and hit the top right-hand corner.
By that stage, Southport were firmly in control, creating chances and taking the game to Tranmere in a way which belied their status as underdogs.
Despite trailing at the break, there had been little between the teams during a tight first half and as the game progressed, the Sandgrounders showed they were more than capable of troubling their opponents who currently sit eighth in SkyBet League Two.
Tranmere had taken the lead on 18 minutes with a fine goal of their own, Jonny Smith, on as an early substitute for the injured Dylan Mottley-Henry, finishing a clinical break as he cut in from the left before bending a shot home.
That was one of the few chances created during the first half,
Connor Jennings and
James Norwood both having early sights of goal but Southport were able to contain the threat from a forward line with a strong pedigree.
The Sandgrounders set about the second half with real intent and they were able to maintain that level of performance until the end.
Ryan Astles saw a header saved by goalkeeper Davies and once Bauress had equalised, the visitors continued to press.
Dion Charles found space on the edge of the area before his shot was deflected over, while Jack Sampson had a header scraped off the goal-line and David Morgan also saw an effort blocked.
Southport’s best chance of a winner came with a minute remaining, Morgan releasing Devarn Green as the visitors broke swiftly but the substitute could only place his shot over.
Goalkeeper Dan Hanford produced a fine reflex save to deny Smith in stoppage time and Jennings had earlier shot into the side-netting after weaving into the visitors’ area but Southport showed resolve to go with their enterprising play.
The huge away following celebrated with the visiting players at full-time and they will no doubt already be looking forward to the replay.
Tranmere Rovers (4-2-3-1): Davies, Caprice, McNulty, Monthe, Ridehalgh, Harris, Gilmour (Buxton 59), Mottley-Henry (Smith 10), Mullin (Tollitt 46), Jennings, Norwood.
Subs not used: George, Sutton, Stockton, Bakayogo. Southport (4-1-4-1): Hanford, Richards, Winnard, Astles (Green 71), Ogle, Edwards (Parry 90), Charles, Morgan, Wood, Bauress, Sampson.
Subs not used: Tibbetts, Gilchrst, Mueller, Archer, Homson-Smith.
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
Man of the match: Brad Bauress