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Match Report


Posted Sat 05 Jul 14 at 05:16 AM

United 0

Southport 0

NO goals but loads of drama, controversy and entertainment on an afternoon of blood, guts and thunder at Plainmoor.

Chances were already plentiful when Ryan Bowman saw red for a moment of madness on 21 minutes and both sides spent the rest of the match throwing everything into the search for three points.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, United laid siege on the Southport goal in a thrilling second-half and will spend the weekend wondering how the victory did not arrive in the end.

Quite understandably, United manager Chris Hargreaves neglected to make any changes from the side that defeated Welling so comfortably in midweek, which meant the experience of Krystian Pearce and the attacking flair of Toby Ajala started on bench-duty.

After two defeats to start his season, Southport boss Martin Foyle had a slightly different approach to his team selection, making one change to the side beaten 3-1 at Halifax on Tuesday night. Joe Connor dropped to the bench to allow a start for Micah Evans.

Despite the contrast in form, Southport started as the brighter outfit and United were grateful to Angus MacDonald for a brave block on a long-range drive from Luke Foster.

The Yellow tempo quickly shifted up a gear with a searing run down the right from Louis Briscoe and his drilled low cross ricocheted off the foot of Foster, and into the waiting arms of a relieved Daniel Lloyd-Weston in the visiting goal.

Straight up the other end, and the Sandgrounders crafted a clever move in the left channel that culminated in a fizzing low shot from captain Stephen Brogan, which forced Martin Rice into a terrific save.

The Gulls were particularly fortunate to stay level from the next Soutport attack, as a lightning run down the right from Micah Evans ended with a deep cross to Brogan, who was denied the opener by the big toe of Rice.

United came back with a sublime move, started by Bowman feeding the ball wide to right-back Dale Tonge and his immediate cross back to the big striker was flicked with an instinctive volley onto the top of Lloyd-Weston’s crossbar.

Slowly but surely, United were looking the stronger side, although a swirling Brogan shot from 35 yards briefly had Rice concerned, as he shifted his feet to parry the ball clear. The breathless nature of proceedings continued with a stabbed Briscoe shot sailing inches too high.

A complete moment of madness from Bowman then changed the afternoon. An innocuous tussle with Scott Kay should have been nothing more than a quick chat from the referee but when Bowman reacted by moving his head towards the opponent, it was difficult to argue with the subsequent red card.

The Gulls had to quickly regroup and the immediate strategy from Hargreaves was to leave Ashley Yeoman as a lone forward, with the wide-pairing of Briscoe and Courtney Cameron attempting to provide support.

Much to their credit, United immediately recovered from the set-back and retained a solid platform. Southport were struggling to make any attacking impression and the only danger to the Yellows was losing their cool with referee Dean Treleaven, who was far from popular on the home terraces.

Temperatures on the field raised another notch when Luke Young clattered into the unfortunate Kay and, once again, no argument with the yellow card brandished by Mr Treleaven.

The half ended with a fierce drive from John Marsden flying wide of the Yellow goal and the chance to reassess his approach at half-time led to Hargreaves removing Yeoman for the more powerful presence of Duane Ofori-Acheampong.

The big forward was quickly into the action, laying off a pass for Cameron to burst down the left wing and with full-back Andy Mitchell trailing in his wake, the low cross toward Ofori-Acheampong at the near post was poked inches over.

Southport then had the best chance of the afternoon, as Marsden slipped the ball through the home defence for Brogan but his low shot was brilliantly turned wide by the advancing Rice.

A sizzling atmosphere inside Plainmoor contributed greatly to a splendid afternoon of full-blooded football in the Vanarama Conference, with both sides showing complete desire and commitment to the cause.

The tremendous application was typified by a colossal performance from Aaron Downes at the heart of United’s defence and Foyle sought to change the pattern by introducing Richard Brodie for Kay.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, United were carrying the bigger threat and Ofori-Acheampong twice came close to converting fabulous set-piece deliveries from the influential Young. A deflected effort from Tonge then dipped inches over.

Hargreaves turned to the dazzling skills of Ajala for the final 20 minutes, removing the tiring legs of Briscoe, while the Southport bench reacted by bringing on Johnnie Lynch for Marsden.

United were really turning the screw and the sheer strength of Ofori-Acheampong enabled him to turn a floundering Dominic Collins, only for Lloyd-Weston to save with his legs. The ball was cleared to Young, who saw a dipping 25-yarder tipped over the bar by beleaguered Southport stopper.

Paul Smith replaced Brogan in the final change for the visitors, quickly followed by Ben Harding limping off for the Gulls to give Courtney Richards his first competitive outing at TQ1.

United continued to pile forward in a hugely entertaining afternoon and when Cameron slipped a pass down the left channel for Ofori-Acheampong, Southport were again grateful to Lloyd-Weston for saving well at his near post.

Game over but great fun, and a decent point in the end.

(4-4-2): 1 Martin Rice; 2 Dale Tonge, 21 Angus MacDonald, 4 Aaron Downes, 3 Thomas Cruise; 7 Louis Briscoe (10 Toby Ajala 70), 6 Ben Harding (16 Courtney Richards 83), 8 Luke Young (capt), 11 Courtney Cameron; 9 Ryan Bowman, 14 Ashley Yeoman (24 Duane Ofori-Acheampong H-T). Substitutes (not used): 5 Krystian Pearce, 23 Jordan Seabright (GK).

Young 37, MacDonald 46

Bowman 22

(4-5-1): 1 Daniel Lloyd-Weston; 22 Andy Mitchell, 5 Dominic Collins, 6 Luke Foster, 3 David Fitzpatrick; 7 Micah Evans, 4 Scott Kay (10 Richard Brodie 62), 8 Luke George, 11 Stephen Brogan (capt) (20 Paul Smith 78), 18 John Marsden (12 Johnnie Lynch 73); 9 Danny Hattersley. Substitutes (not used): 15 Joe Connor, 16 Paul Rutherford.

George 10, Kay 22, Fitzpatrick 64

Dean Treleaven

1,997 (65 away).

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