BACK TO WINNING WAYS
By Tom Bates
Luke Smith & Conor Wright goals get the 3 points we deserve
Game number 4 and our second home game of the season, we welcomed Blackpool Wren Rovers to Bankfield Lane. A team who had lost 2 games already but a fixture that always see’s Goals and is a great game to watch if you’re a neutral, this game again did not disappoint.
Despite a few players missing from Saturday’s line up, Southport Hesketh were able to welcome back Joe Savin, David Brooks, Luke Smith to the starting line up, with Jack McCluskie & Craig Pugh returning to the bench for the first time this season.
Southport started a 4-3-3 formation with the ever present Liam Buckley in goal, a back 4 of Andy Dawber, Joe Savin, Craig Massam and Jimmy Green. David Brooks, Luke Smith and Si Hill were the midfield engine room as Conor Wright, Delial Brewster and Jordan Gregg lead the line up top.
The game started on a dry stick surface with both teams keeping hold of possession fairly well. Blackpool twice threatened the Southport back line with deep crosses from the left hand side looking for Carl Eastwood, however Jimmy Green dealt with the crosses & Carl, very well. Not recalling Liam Buckley having much to do in the Southport goal, the game was swinging very much in Southports favour in the opening 20 minutes. Delial Brewster got in behind the left back on 2 occasions but his final cross was evaded both times. On the 19th minute, the first clear opportunity came a Southport way. Andy Dawber and Joe Savin linked up well at the back before playing a ball into Delial Brewster who was able to get at the Blackpool back line cutting inside and playing a tidy reverse through ball into the path of midfielder Luke Smith who found himself inside the area and able to lash home from 12 yards to put the hosts 1-0 up.
Southport's tails were up, however it was Blackpool who started to move the ball around the pitch a lot quicker. Southport were made to defend a few corners but again, defended well in and around the edge of the area. Delial Brewster then had a chance himself as he cut inside from the right hand side and whipped an effort past the far post. In doing so, Brewster seemed to pull his groin, meaning an early substitution for Southport as he was replaced by Jack McCluskie.
Right on the stroke of half time, Carl Eastwood was fouled on the edge of the southport penalty area & Danny Morris drew the visitors level as he smashed Home a free kick low and hard past Buckley. A blow to Southport who had performed much better than the opening 3 games as both teams went in level at 1-1 for the interval.
The opening 5 minutes of the second half saw Blackpool bombard the southport penalty area with deep long balls and a couple of corners. It was from one corner were Buckley was collided in to and ended up in a heap on the floor, despite claims from the Blackpool players of a hand ball, the game was paused and Buckley was treated for 15-20 minutes. Liam was then substituted for Kieran Wright who went to right back, Dawber shuffled over to centre half and skipper Craig Massam played 40+ minutes in goal. To be fair, Massam commanded his area very well and looked fairly comfortable in a green shirt between the sticks, not something he was shy of as he has done the many times before.
Jack McCluskie, Jordan Gregg and Conor Wright were working tirelessly to keep pressure on the Blackpool back line as they were finding it difficult to play out from the back. The front 3 linking up well and using Jack as a pivot point, was able to bring midfielders into the game as David Brooks & Si Hill both saw efforts flash across goal. Into the 67th minute and good link up play on the far side between Jordan Gregg, Jack McCluskie & Conor Wright, seen Conor receive the Ball on the edge of the area and was able to whip the ball around the defender and into the bottom corner to put southport 2-1 up as Conor continued his “goal-a-game” start to the season and something Southport Hesketh felt they deserved, sparking wild celebrations, even from the touchline.
Southport were able to keep possession a lot more comfortably and despite David Brooks some what unbelievably going into the refree’s note pad for a yellow card, the discipline of the blue’s was solid too. Luke Smith was then substituted for Jack Ledson going into the final 15 minutes who went as the central striker, allowing Jack McCluskie to drop into his preferred central midfield role and maintain possession for the blues. Southport were able to see the game out comfortably without either side making many more clear cut chances, the game finished 2-1 to the Home side.
A game which again, for a neutral was probably a good one to watch. A thoroughly enjoyable one if you’re part of the Southport Hesketh side.
The managers reflection on the game was that “Southport Hesketh today showed how good of a side they can be, if they cut out the mistakes and stop leaking silly goals, we know we are capable of scoring each week. The attitude, effort, intensity and character the lads all shown tonight was deserving of the much needed 3 points and this can now kick start our season. We welcome Slyne to Bankfield next week, who are unbeaten and again always prove to be a fairly tricky customer, so we need to ensure we take today’s hard work into Saturday for it to mean a lot more.”
Goalscorers; Luke Smith & Conor Wright
MOM: David Brooks - orchestrated the midfield well and worked tirelessly off the Ball too.