Southport’s unbeaten run came to an end with Jake Moult’s second half strike was the difference as Altrincham scraped past the Sandgrounders in a feisty playoff crunch match.
Defender Liam Edwards was given his marching orders 18 minutes from time for a second yellow card after cynically pulling down Robins winger Max Harrop, while Dean Winnard was stretchered off with a suspected knee injury, five minutes before the end.
The rain and wind battered the J Davidson Stadium on Saturday afternoon with the Port knowing a win would put them within a point of a play-off place.
Southport enjoyed the better chances in the first half with Leamington match-winner, Devarn Green, having the best of the visitors’ chances in the opening 45, proving to be a menace in the Alty box from set-pieces.
Captain David Morgan threatened Tony Thompson’s goal on three occasions, his best opportunity coming before the break when his cross-cum-shot fizzed past the post.
After a slow start, the Robins sprung into life after the restart, piling the pressure on Liam Watson’s side.
Jake Moult’s winner came just two minutes before the hour mark as he was the quickest to the loose ball in the Port area after Simon Richman’s right-footed effort travelled through a sea of bodies before ricocheting in the direction of the skipper who poked home his second goal of the season.
Altrincham talisman, Jordan Hulme, came within inches of doubling the lead, 10 minutes after the opener, when he met John Johnston’s whipped delivery but the forward couldn’t keep his effort down and blazed his effort over the bar.
January signing Paddy Lacey made his league debut for Southport after 75 minutes as he searches for match fitness.
Referee Nathanael Cox was a busy man, as he brandished five yellow cards just to the visiting team.
The official sent Bolton Wanderers loanee, Edwards, for an early bath in the latter stages of the game after first booking the 22-year-old on the hour mark for his late tackle on Hulme.
Southport struggled to gain a foothold in the second half with one of their best chances coming through Bradley Bauress, his drilled left-footed effort forced Thompson into routine diving stop.
Second half substitute Dean Winnard replaced an already booked Jordan Richards at the break and left the pitch on a stretcher after a seemingly innocuous incident where Hulme appeared to land awkwardly on the full-back’s knee. The extent of the injury is yet to be confirmed.
Top scorer Jack Sampson came close in stoppage time but couldn’t force Alty’s shot-stopper into making a save.
Defeat is something the Port fans haven’t tasted since late October, but Saturday’s set-back keeps them within seven points of the final play-off place which is currently occupied by Chester.
Altrincham (4-3-3) Thompson, White, Hampson, Jones, Hanigan, Moult [C], Johnston, Richman, Hulme (Sang 88), Hancock, Harrop (Williams 80).
Subs not used: Mantack, Densmore, Harrison.
Southport (4-2-3-1) Hanford, Richards (Winnard 45) (Homson-Smith 87), Ogle, Edwards, Parry, Morgan, Green (Lacey 75), Wood, Charles, Sampson, Bauress.
Subs not used: Gilchrist, Archer.
Referee: Nathanael Cox
Report by Stephen Killen (@SteKillenBL)