REPORT | Kettering 0 Southport 1

REPORT | Kettering 0 Southport 1

A MOMENT of magic from captain David Morgan earned Southport a hard-fought win against a tough Kettering Town side.

Morgan’s smart first-half finish was enough to separate the teams – moving the Sandgrounders up to fourth in the Vanarama National League North.

In truth, the Port’s first trip to Latimer Park was a scrappy affair on a tricky pitch, where real quality was short on supply from both teams.

But the Yellows showed enough spirit to see off their stubborn opponents – who hit the woodwork twice – and once again displayed their defensive resilience.

The Port have now conceded just one goal in their opening five league matches.

Boss Liam Watson was full of praise for his players, who had endured a five-hour coach journey from Merseyside because of traffic jams on the M6.

Kick-off was delayed to 8pm – just 35 minutes after the Port arrived in Northamptonshire.

Liam said: “We knew it was going to be a battle. They put an awful lot of pressure on us as a team but I thought we defended manfully.

“I couldn’t be happier with the lads. We had a horrible trip, a delayed kick off, not a long warm up. Everything about tonight smacked off it being just one of those nights.

“So for what they’ve done – I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

After their disrupted preparations, Southport could perhaps be forgiven for their part in a slow start to proceedings.

Kettering, who ran league leaders Fylde close in their last game, enjoyed the bulk of early possession with new signing Johnny Hunt heavily involved.

But it was Marcus Carver with the first real sniff at goal – the striker doing well to hold off the challenge of a defender before blasting over from 20 yards.

Kettering could have opened the scoring inside 25 minutes, Ben Milnes’ corner was missed by Dan Hanford with Luke Graham planting the ball onto the crossbar.

But it was Port who went ahead on 33 minutes with what proved to be their only shot on target. Morgan generated space in the box after neat interplay from Carver and calmly prodded the ball past the helpless Adam Collin.

For the second successive game, Southport had a strong penalty claim waved away shortly after when Watson seemed to be hacked down in the Kettering box.

Kettering came out strongly in the second half as Port sought to defend their lead and press on the counter attack.

The hosts’ sustained pressure almost paid off with both Connor Kennedy and Ryan Fryatt coming close from corners.

Mo Ali was forced off with injury after bravely intercepting Fryatt’s goal-bound header from another set play.

And with four minutes left to play Hanford ensured the three points with a top-drawer diving save to palm away Kennedy’s rasping drive.

Speaking after the match, Watson praised his side – in particular the work ethic of Carver and Watson, who ran tirelessly throughout.

He said: “The two forwards worked on scraps but I thought they worked their absolute tripe off. Niall was 100% denied a penalty in the first half. You don’t get them much more blatant than that.

“For the goal, it was a great ball from Marcus and a great finish from Morgs. Dan only had one real save to make, which was a top class save.

“I couldn’t have asked much more in response to the loss on Saturday. It was the right reaction.”

Southport take on AFC Telford at the New Bucks Head on Saturday.

Thank you to John Siddle for the match report.

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