REPORT: Widnes 5-1 Southport
Five-star Widnes thrash Southport in stunning cup upset
Widnes FC pulled off a stunning cup upset to progress into the semi-finals of the Liverpool Senior Cup for the very first time, putting five past National League North side Southport in a five-star performance at the Select Security Stadium.
After a goalless opening 40 minutes, three goals were scored in the final five minutes of the half as Kev Towey scored twice in two minutes to put Widnes 2-0 up before Josh Hine reduced the deficit inside first half stoppage time.
Sam Henry restored Widnes’ two-goal advantage 10 minutes into the second half, with Jack Banister increasing the hosts’ lead to 4-1 two minutes later. Sam Sheen completed the scoring with a fine individual effort 11 minutes from time.
Joint bosses Towey and Steve Akrigg made four changes to the Widnes side that beat Hanley Town on Saturday. Chris Lomax, Phil Doran and Jack Graham were all rested and replaced by Kev Pollard, Joe Fielding and Banister. Meanwhile, striker Henry came in for Brad Smart who dropped to the bench.
Southport, managed by former England striker Kevin Davies, fielded two ex-Premier League players in their side. Former Everton trainee John-Paul Kissock captained the side, while Lee Croft, who moved from Manchester City to Norwich City in 2006 for £600k, started in midfield.
Widnes started positively with their high pressing game forcing Southport’s backline into an early error. Banister won possession back 25 yards from goal and exchanged passes with Towey before forcing a decent save out of Matthew Lavelle.
Returning from a one-game absence, Banister was proving to be his ever-mercurial self. He was involved again minutes later, as Sheen raced on to a Roberts’ through-ball before squaring the ball wide to Banister who drove a shot at goal that was blocked on the line by Sandgrounders defender Luke Tabone.
Southport made a sloppy and slow start, and were bested by a Widnes side from three divisions below Davies’ side. Port did grow into the half however, as Nathan Lowe went on a driving run forward only for his shot to be comfortably gathered by Richie Mottram.
Widnes took the lead five minutes before the break. Banister raced away from the chasing Croft and surged forward for Widnes. He played a pass inside to Towey who quickly played a neat one-two with Henry. The chance seemed to have broken down as the ball rolled away from goal, but Towey remarkably pulled off a stunning backheel from an acute angle to give his side the lead.
The hosts’ second goal came two minutes later. Towey took a quick free-kick that played in Banister who had a ferocious shot blocked by the hand of Curtis Jones, leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot.
Towey stepped up and confidently dispatched the spot-kick to net his second goal of the evening.
Southport reduced the deficit on the stroke of half-time. Hine latched on to a well-weighted through-ball and got in behind the Widnes defence. He held off the sliding challenge of Pollard before finishing neatly beyond Mottram.
Halftime: Widnes 2-1 Southport
Widnes still looked a threat after the resumption and it took a smart stop from Lavelle to deny a Henry volley who was released over the top by a Mike Burke pass.
The hosts added a third 10 minutes into the half. Skipper Pollard played a magnificent ball over the top of the Southport defence that released Henry in behind, who found a pocket of space to hook a shot beyond the outstretched Lavelle to net his first Widnes goal following his move from Bangor City last month.
A fourth came two minutes later. A mis-placed Southport pass was intercepted by Banister 40 yards from goal. The lively winger drove forward towards a retreating Port backline, before curling a superb effort into the far corner with Lavelle well-beaten, sending the home support into raptures.
Widnes went in search of a fifth as Southport struggled to cope with the energetic and vibrant hosts. Fielding lifted a delicious cross towards the back-post which was met by Towey, who could only nod wide of the target.
Towey was on the hunt for a hat-trick, and he was presented with a glorious chance to do so after intercepting Tabone’s horror backpass but the Widnes joint boss could only shoot into the grateful gloves of Lavelle.
Both Henry and Towey received standing ovations when they were replaced by Smart and Ben Hodkinson with Widnes having all-but secured their place in the last four of the competition.
Nevertheless, Widnes made it five 11 minutes from time. Sheen intercepted a pass and surged forward, leaving defenders in his wake as he drove into the box before stroking the ball past Lavelle to round-off a superb individual goal.
Southport almost gifted Widnes a sixth late on as miscommunication between Lavelle and Gary Roberts left the latter’s pass rolling towards an empty net but Tabone managed to track back, clearing off the line to bail out his two teammates.
Fulltime: Widnes 5-1 Southport
With victory, Widnes became the first side to progress into the semi-finals of this season's competition, with the other three quarter-final ties yet to be played.
Widnes now face a league double-header over the weekend, hosting Barnoldswick Town on Saturday before Winsford United cross the Mersey Gateway Bridge on Monday night.