MATCH REPORT | Southport 4 – 3 Eastleigh
A lot has changed for Southport since the appointment of Steve Burr as manager and this incident-packed win, which marked 100 days since he took charge, provided further evidence of their ongoing transformation.
Burr’s first match in the hotseat was the reverse fixture at Eastleigh in September, and after a high turnover of players has come a turnaround in fortunes, culminating in the most notable win of his tenure so far.
Southport led by a two-goal margin on three occasions against promotion-chasing Eastleigh but still found themselves hanging on at the end of an afternoon that saw seven goals and three red cards.
Between them, Southport and Eastleigh have used five managers already this season, and while Burr’s revolution continues, this was a chastening first league match in charge for Martin Allen, following his high-profile arrival in the opposition dug out.
Southport began at an excellent tempo and their bright start was rewarded with a fourth-minute lead.
Jamie Allen played the ball to Jordan Lussey, who sent a cross to the far post, where Andrai Jones took a touch before finishing clinically.
Sendings-off are usually guaranteed when referee Joe Johnson is in town and, after showing three red cards in the midweek Buildbase FA Trophy replay between Chester and Witton Albion, he completed another hat-trick.
It took only 12 minutes for Johnson to issue his first dismissal, giving Southport’s Liam Hynes his marching orders for a lunge on Sam Togwell, before the referee promptly evened things up after Joe Partington had slid in on Neil Ashton.
Liam Nolan added Southport’s second goal from the tightest of angles after an excellent counter-attack led by Ryan Higgins, before Reda Johnson halved Eastleigh’s deficit after goalkeeper Magnus Norman had fumbled a Jai Reason corner.
Norman may have been culpable but how he atoned for his error, producing a string of excellent saves as the match wore on, including several at point-blank range.
Martin Allen, the Eastleigh manager, said the difference between the teams was his namesake, Jamie, but Southport’s orchestrator was probably Declan Weeks.
No player embodies the Sandgrounders’ transformation more than Weeks and he added the home team’s third goal shortly after half-time, scoring with a sumptuous strike from inside the area after a pass from Allen.
A lot of Southport’s recent wins have come against teams near the bottom of the Vanarama National League but Eastleigh boast one of the division’s most expensive squads and, as Burr pointed out, this win and performance is a mark of the progress made by his squad.
James Constable reduced the arrears but Eastleigh went down to nine men when Hakeim Odoffin pulled back Jones.
Allen rolled home a penalty on 70 minutes after he was tipped by Ben Strevens but Constable set up a nervy finish after converting a cross from Mikael Mandron.
Southport (4-4-2): Norman, R Higgins, J Higgins, Thompson, Ashton, Lussey, Weeks (Aaron Jones 90), Nolan (McKenna 80), Hynes, Allen, Andrai Jones (Jerome 85).
Subs not used: Springthorpe, Gray.
Eastleigh (4-4-2): Huddart, Pipe (Wilson 46), N’Gala, Johnson, Green (Coulson 54), Odoffin, Partington, Togwell (Strevens 54), Reason, Constable, Mandron.
Subs not used: Brown, Essam.
Referee: Joe Johnson
Report by Alan Jones