It is unlikely that teams in the Vanarama National League North will come across an opponent more generous at the moment than Southport.
The Sandgrounders conceded four goals as they slipped into the bottom three, and their problems, based on this showing, are countless.
From the moment they took the lead on 24 minutes, victory for Bradford Park Avenue was all too easy. Until then, the play had been tight, but when Southport concede these days, whether it be during the first half or late in games, an avalanche usually follows.
This match marked the beginning of the second half of the Sandgrounders’ league campaign but any hopes of a fresh start soon disappeared.
The goals conceded here took Southport’s total tally for the season to 49. Kevin Davies kept the same team that let in three at Boston United and opted to change shape but a 4-4-2 did little to provide the Sandgrounders with the durability they urgently require.
The ease with which Southport were taken apart in the first half was alarming. Three Bradford attacks garnered three goals and with it another chance for Southport to arrest the slide was gone.
Currently sixth in the table, Bradford have been upwardly mobile in recent months but they hardly needed to exert themselves against porous defending.
The rot set in when Adam Boyes directed the ball in at the far post after Oli Johnson’s initial shot from a Nicky Wroe corner appeared to be heading wide.
Ten minutes later, Mark Ross slipped in Boyes, who stepped into the area and drew Jon Worsnop before lifting a shot neatly over the advancing goalkeeper.
And by half-time it was three. Johnson exploited the absence of any resistance from Southport by making his way into the masses of space on the left. He sent a low ball across the face of goal, giving Clee the simple task of converting.
For all their problems at the back, Southport have at least scored goals of their own in recent weeks, but this time they were unable to lay a glove.
The home team were bereft of ideas, taking 81 minutes to register a shot of any description and, even then, their attempts to reduce the deficit were no more than token efforts.
Two shots from Jordan Hallam were comfortably saved by goalkeeper Steve Drench and, in many ways, the lack of conviction going forward was as worrying as their slapdash play at the opposite end.
This was Southport’s final home match of the calendar year which has seen them play 23 matches at the Merseyrail Community Stadium, winning five, losing 13 and conceding 47 goals in the process.
If ever a goal summed up the Sandgrounders’ woes, it came with a minute remaining, as an attempt at a clearance from goalkeeper Worsnop struck substitute Lee Knight and rebounded in. For Southport, once again, it was one of those days.
Southport (4-4-2): Worsnop, Sheron, Howson (Smith 46), Priestley, Richards, Jackson (Dawson 59, Hine 72), Morgan, Lynch, Hallam, Gilchrist, Sampson.
Sus not used: Kpohomouh, Foster.
Bradford Park Avenue (4-2-3-1): Drench, Ross, Havern, Killock, Hill, Wroe, Clee (Boshell 77), Vidal, Spencer, Johnson (Brooksby 71), Boyes (Knight 86).
Subs not used: Hall, Nowakowski.
Referee: Paul Brown
Report by Alan Jones