MATCH REPORT | Barrow 0-1 Southport

MATCH REPORT | Barrow 0-1 Southport

Southport pick up all three points at Holker Street courtesy of Ben McKenna's first half effort

Southport moved five points clear of the relegation places on Tuesday evening after a committed and spirited display that saw the Sandgrounders leave Barrow with all three points, courtesy of Ben McKenna’s first half effort.

With injuries to several key players, a point from Southport’s previous two games could have been seen as a respectable return, but the 50 or so Sandgrounders making the pilgrimage to Barrow were treated to one of the standout performances of the season.

While free-flowing attacking football may have been at a premium, the display of unity and togetherness from the squad, alongside some solid defending, made the Port worthy winners against the frustrated Bluebirds.

It was the home team who found the early momentum, penning Southport into their own half for the first five minutes of the game. Jordan Williams’ carved out the first real chance, but wasted his shot, floating it over the bar.

Barrow were to be found vulnerable on the counter-attack all evening. With Southport’s first real clear-cut chance, Ben McKenna took the ball from the half way line to the right-hand corner of the box before rifling the ball into the far corner.

Moments later, Moussa Diarra was denied by the crossbar after acrobatically tumbling for an overhead kick from the penalty spot. Barrow continued to maintain the pressure, with Akil Wright’s 30-yard effort saved low by Magnus Norman.

Ben McKenna went close again with a pair of chances on the half hour mark. Receiving the ball from Neil Ashton, McKenna dispatched a shot wide of the post, before finding truer aim moments later, with Barrow goalkeeper Jon Flatt palming away his second attempt.

Southport maintained their work rate and appeared more comfortable in the second half. Delial Brewster coped with some physical play using bursts of speed to break past his opponents and looked confident and assured on the ball all evening.

On 57 minutes, Neil Ashton perfectly set up Andrai Jones with a long range free kick, with Jones’ short range effort cleared by a beleaguered Flatt.

Ross Hannah was introduced for the home team on 64 minutes and his torrid time summed up Barrow’s evening. While the striker raced round with terrier-like energy, Robbie Cundy was unmoved, keeping the striker at bay for the entirety of his short time on the pitch. The on-loan Oxford United defender slotted into the team with ease and played a huge part in the defensive organisation that allowed Southport to leave with three points, with Josh Thompson also playing a vital role.

Jake Wright, confirmed on loan from Sheffield United less than five hours earlier, was awarded a late cameo for his debut. With Southport enduring some late pressure, Wright shook off a physical challenge from the stocky Diarra, with the striker jumping up from the centre-half’s attempts to shove him to the floor before striding down the wing, leaving Diarra in his wake.

Southport controlled the late pressure from the home team as they pushed for an equaliser, the relief plain to see on the faces of the Southport staff and fans as Scott Oldham blew the full time whistle.

The only disappointment of the evening was that the difficulty of the trip meant that so few were able to watch the performance. Those making the journey were treated to arguably Southport’s most resolute performance of the season, maybe even the last several seasons.

With more of the same, Southport will be able to stop looking down the table, and start looking up.

Southport: Norman, Ashton, Nolan, Thompson, Brewster (Wright 79), Hynes, Andrai Jones, McKenna, McKeown, Cundy, R Higgins
Subs not used: Springthorpe, Onovwigun, Weeks, Aaron Jones

Barrow: Flatt, Beeley, Anderton, Livesley, Diarra, Harvey, Rowe (Haworth 64), Wright, Bennett (Hannah 64), Harrison, Williams (Meikle 79)
Subs not used: Hughes, Murray

Referee: Scott Oldham
Attendance: 956
By James Cave