Southport welcomed Bromley to the Merseyrail Community Stadium on Saturday for a bottom of the table clash that could have seen Southport jump as high as 19th in the Vanarama National League had they claimed three points. As it was, the Sandgrounders’ habit of conceding in the first fifteen minutes of matches once more reared its ugly head as they fell to a 2-1 defeat.
Southport started the game brightly, and could have been ahead within four minutes when right winger Andrai Jones headed a Neil Ashton cross goalwards, only for Alan Julian in the Bromley goal to tip the ball over the bar. The miss proved costly as after ten minutes Adam Cunnington headed Joe Anderson’s cross home from inside the six yard box to give the visitors the early advantage.
The goal sapped the momentum that Southport had created during their lively start, and although Liam Nolan volleyed against the post from a Ryan Higgins throw in Bromley looked the more dangerous going forward during a passage of play that saw Southport ride their luck, including two wonderful saves from goalkeeper Magnus Norman.
First, after twenty minutes, Blair Turgott seared past Southport left back Ashton and crossed for Bromley’s top scorer Toby Sho Silva, who headed on target from five yards only for Norman to palm against the crossbar and cling on to the rebound. Two minutes later, Turgott again beat Ashton and this time crossed for David Martin, who was denied by Norman from identical distance to Sho Silva.
Eventually Bromley’s dominance paid dividends, as in the 23rd minute they won a corner following a superb last ditch challenge from Callum Howe denied Sho Silva just as he was about to let fly with a shot. The corner was taken by Martin, who was taught a lesson in headed goals by Jordan Higgs. At 2-0 Southport were staring down the barrel, with Turgott and Sho Silva threatening to run riot on the counter attack whilst the Sandgrounders struggled to create a genuine chance against a packed defence.
When a chance did materialise before half time it fell again to the head of Andrai Jones. A threaded through ball from midfielder Jordan Lussey set Ashton free down the left, but again Julian was able to prevent Jones converting the cross ten minutes before the break. The rest of the half fizzled out as Bromley got men behind the ball following their second goal, happy to abandon any attacking efforts in order to preserve their two goal lead.
This theme continued into the second half, aside from one Cunnington effort five minutes after the break that Mark O’Brien was able to head away from danger. An early goal in the second half was essential if Southport were to salvage anything from the game, and Jordan Lussey provided it in some style. Andrai Jones cushioned the ball into his path from James Caton’s cross field pass, and the midfielder struck the ball sweetly on the half volley 35 yards from goal, his effort evading a flying Julian and finishing in the top corner.
The rest of the game was one way traffic as Southport pressed for an equaliser whilst Bromley appeared content to pack their defence rather than regain their two goal lead, a negative move that became apparent as soon as the dangerous Sho Silva was taken off for defensive midfielder Lee Minshull.
Ten minutes after his introduction Minshull was involved in the major talking point of the game, as he was adjudged to have been fouled by Andrai Jones seconds prior to Liam Nolan thinking he had scored the goal that would have levelled proceedings. The certainly debatable whistle of referee Stephen Ross went just as Nolan’s shot hit the back of the net, and brought the celebrations to a halt.
Bromley were successful for the remainder of the match in their efforts to run down the clock through a plethora of injuries and runs to the corner flag. These tactics, whilst successful, were unnecessary as their attacking play in the first half was dangerous, regularly getting their travelling supporters out of their seats and belied their league position. Those fans would surely rather see the likes of Turgott and Sho Silva on the offensive rather than being nullified by lack of attacking intent, indeed no football fan would wish to watch their team show such a lack of ambition.
The final whistle came to bring an end to both the game and Southport’s chances of climbing out of the relegation zone that afternoon. Instead Steve Burr will have to rally his players to visit Solihull Moors on Tuesday for an equally important, equally winnable televised fixture.
Southport: Norman, Higgins, O’Brien, Howe, Ashton, A. Jones, Nolan (Moseley, 90), Lussey, Caton (Cofie, 80), Allen, Gray (G. Jones, 46)
Subs not used: Weeks, White
Bromley: Julian, Howe, Johnson, Holland, Martin (Goldberg, 88), Cunnington (Ajakaiye, 83) Anderson, Higgs, Prestedge, Turgott, Sho Silva (Minshall, 69)
Subs not used: Dymond, Stanic-Stewart
Report by Christy Byrne