MATCH REPORT | AFC Telford United 1-0 Southport

It was with a sense of disappointment that Southport opened their Vanarama National League North season at the New Bucks Head.

The new campaign still promises one of great excitement for the Sandgrounders but the start was not what anyone had wanted, as they slipped to defeat at AFC Telford United in subdued fashion.

Amari Morgan-Smith scored the only goal midway through the second half and despite having enough time to have found a route back, the Sandgrounders were unable to do so.

As manager Liam Watson reflected afterwards, it was deserved win for Telford, who created the clearer chances and controlled more of the possession.

The Southport manager opted for an attacking trio of Devarn Green and Mike Phenix, who both supported Jack Sampson as the main striker, but the Sandgrounders struggled as an offensive force.

Sampson was responsible for the visitors’ best moment on 17 minutes, when a corner from Nathan Lowe found its way through a crowded Telford area and reached the striker at the far post before he sent in a shot that grazed the crossbar.

By that time Telford had already made a brisk start and although the chance for Sampson came during Southport’s most productive period of the afternoon, they were unable to make a genuine mark on the game.

The deciding goal came on 66 minutes, Morgan-Smith getting a run on the Southport defence as he broke into the area, allowing him to pick up a low cross from Henry Cowans to prod the ball past goalkeeper Dan Hanford.

Southport had already tried to vary their options, sending on a double substitution in David Morgan and Dion Charles before looking to Jason Gilchrist with 19 minutes to go, but Telford dealt with everything that was asked of them.

The home began with intent and forced a save in the early stages from goalkeeper Hanford, who did well to beat out a low shot from Darryl Knights.

Morgan-Smith headed over a cross from James McQuilkin, while Cowans made up ground on the right before switching the ball onto his left foot and supplying an inviting ball from which Theo Street turned the ball wide.

Telford have undergone a significant rebuild themselves during the summer and McQuilkin and Streete are among a raft of players recruited with significant experience of the National League North.

Knights brought out the best in Hanford again after the interval, the Southport goalkeeper diving to his right to produce a fine save but he was unable to keep out Morgan-Smith shortly after.

Lowe sent a 25-yard free-kick over the Telford crossbar. Once introduced as a substitute, Charles tried to make things happen as Southport searched for a way back, while two half-chances came the way of Gilchrist.

Gilchrist headed wide at the far post from Billy Priestley’s long throw-in, before the ball broke to him on the far side of the area in stoppage time. He took a touch, swivelled and sent a shot over, and this was not to be Southport’s day.


AFC Telford United (4-4-2): Bramley, White, Deeney, Sutton, Morley (Sears 71) , Cowans, Streete, Knights, McQuilkin (Royle 78), Morgan-Smith, Udoh (Brown 84).
Subs not used: Martinex, Dawson.
Goal: Morgan-Smith 66

Southport (4-3-3): Hanford, Richards, Langley, Astles, Priestley, Lowe, Osborne (Morgan 59), Lynch, Phenix (Gilchrist 71), Sampson, Green (Charles 59).
Subs not used: Mueller, Winnard.

Attendance: 1,274

Referee: Lewis Smith

Report by Alan Jones

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