MATCH REPORT | Southport 0 – 1 Chester
As the second match in what is likely to be a season-defining run of fixtures, Southport came into this game having ended a sequence of five straight defeats with a draw at Woking.
With two months of the campaign remaining, the stakes are high for the Sandgrounders, but this local contest against Chester turned out to be a familiar story of missed chances and another missed opportunity.
Chester ended their own run of six matches without a win to extend Southport’s to seven, meaning Andy Preece’s team remain three points adrift of safety in the Vanarama National League with 12 games remaining.
Preece felt that his team were in control for large parts of the game, and while Southport could count themselves hard done by to have lost, the fact that they did came as a crushing blow.
In a tight game between two teams out of form, a single goal was always likely to be the difference and so it proved.
A long ball forward from Chester goalkeeper Alex Lynch founds its way to Evan Horwood after beating the Southport defence. 20 yards out, Horwood spotted that Southport keeper Magnus Norman had strayed from his goal and lifted a shot into the unguarded net.
The best opening in a first half which was competitive if lacking in quality and clear chances was created by Tom Shaw, whose shot from 18 yards beat goalkeeper Norman but not the Southport upright.
Shaw later had an effort saved by Norman but both teams struggled for attacking craft, meaning most chances came from distance.
Lindon Meike, on loan from Barrow, was the player most likely to make something happen for Southport before half-time and he sent a 30-yard drive wide after Liam Nolan had broken forward from midfield.
Meikle should have done better shortly after the break when defender Sam Hughes failed to cut out a low cross from Jamie Allen, only for Meikle to send his shot into the grasp of goalkeeper Lynch when straight in front of goal.
Southport did not deserve to concede Horwood’s deciding goal but when a team is near the bottom of the table, they must take their chances.
Allen created problems for a while before the home team were denied twice by the crossbar in as many minutes, as a shot from Liam Hynes was touched onto the crossbar by Lynch before Jim Stevenson went close.
Next up for Southport in a crucial run of games is a visit to Maidstone United, who sit one place three points above Preece’s team. The following six matches are also against sides around them, meaning the Sandgrounders must quickly reverse their current form.
Southport (4-1-4-1): Norman, R Higgins, White, Murray, McKeown, Nolan (McKenna 70), Jones (Almond 70), Hynes, Stevenson, Meikle (Grimes 84), Allen.
Subs not used: Weeks, Cundy.
Chester (4-4-2): Lynch, George (Vassell 46), Hughes, Astles, Hunt, Shaw (Durrell 55), Joyce, Lloyd, Horwood (Mahon 83), Alabi, Richards.
Subs not used: Roberts, Hudson.
Referee: Martin Coy
Report by Alan Jones