MATCH REPORT | Farsley Celtic 0 – 4 Southport, Buildbase FA Trophy
Having recently paid tribute to Paul Futcher, their former player-manager, it was perhaps fitting that Southport registered a comprehensive win in the Buildbase FA Trophy.
Futcher, who passed away a fortnight ago, is remembered for guiding the Sandgrounders to their only appearance at Wembley Stadium in the final of this competition in 1998.
19 seasons on, Southport took their first steps on this season’s trophy journey, easing past Farsley Celtic, from the Evo-Stik First Division North, to book their place in the second round.
From the moment Jack Higgins gave Southport a fourth-minute lead, it was always a question of how many Steve Burr’s side could score, underlining the gap of three divisions and 56 league positions between the teams.
Farsley were unable to handle the pace and movement of Burr’s team as they raced into a 3-0 half-time lead in what was a thoroughly professional performance.
Jack Higgins put Southport on their way by heading the visitors into an early lead after Josh Thompson had flicked on a throw-in on the right from Ryan Higgins.
There was an authority about the Sandgrounders in possession from the start and Farsley goalkeeper Graeme McKibbin prevented the visitors from extending their lead.
First, he made a parrying save to keep out Liam Nolan’s 20-yard drive from a Jordan Lussey corner, before showing his reflexes again to stop Paddy Miller’s stray clearance from entering his own goal.
Southport were dominant and, at times, the Farsley defence found Jamie Allen unplayable. On 22 minutes, Allen raced clear down the left wing and shifted the ball onto his right foot, beating McKibbin with an arrowing drive, only for the ball to cannon against a post.
The Sandgrounders added to their lead when Jordan Lussey dispossessed Aaron Hardy and guided an excellent finish into the bottom right-hand corner, and Allen reinforced the visitors’ dominance before half-time, rolling home a penalty after he had been tripped by Miller, the Farsley captain.
With Southport in control and content with their lead, Farsley posed more of a threat after the break, James Walshaw racing clear of the visiting defence on the counter-attack but his shot lacked the accuracy to beat goalkeeper Magnus Norman. The rebound fell for Richard Marshall but he shot wide.
Having struggled defensively in recent matches, Southport will be pleased to have kept a second successive clean sheet, either side of a ten-day break, as they look to rediscover the sort of form which lifted them out of the Vanarama National League relegation zone.
Jack Higgins saw a header deflected wide and a shot blocked on the goal-line by Peter Davidson as Southport threatened from set-plays but Burr’s team were happy to close the game out.
James Caton almost added what would have been a delightful fourth goal after being released by a perfectly-weighted pass from Declan Weeks before lifting his first-time shot onto the crossbar.
But the same two players did combine successfully in added time, Caton scoring with a low, decisive finish to complete a clinical win.
Farsley Celtic (4-4-2): McKibbin, Hardy, Savory, Miller (Clayton 46), Howarth, Nightingale, Turner (Davidson 65), Daly, Walker (Hazel 62), Walshaw, Marshall.
Subs not used: Lofthouse.
Southport (4-4-2): Norman, R Higgins, J Higgins, Thompson, Ashton, Lussey, Nolan (McKenna 70), Weeks, Hynes, Allen (Caton 79), Jones (Gray 55).
Subs not used: White, Grimes.
Referee: Billy Khatib
Report by Alan Jones