MATCH REPORT | Southport 3 – 3 FC United of Manchester
Aug 16, 2017 1643 Views

MATCH REPORT | Southport 3 – 3 FC United of Manchester

It had been a fine summer’s evening at the Merseyrail Community Stadium, but as kick-off approached and the sun started to set, little did anyone know that a whirlwind of a match was about to break out.

After the calm came a footballing storm. Once the final whistle had blown, one supporter remarked that it was difficult to know what to make of the match they had just seen and, for many people, it was that sort of a night.

Southport’s winning start to the Vanarama National League North season came to an end against a team who had lost their opening three matches, yet it was the Sandgrounders who left the pitch with an air of triumphalism after staging a dramatic comeback to rescue a point in stoppage time.

Trailing 3-1 with three minutes of regular time to go, Southport looked to be heading for defeat until Adam Dugdale offered them a lifeline which was seized by Jack Sampson, earning the home team a deserved draw from a richly entertaining contest.

Sampson has waited patiently to open his Southport account, but the striker could not have chosen a better moment to do so, getting his head to an excellent hanging cross which had been stood up at the far post by Gary Roberts on the left by-line.

Having recorded a convincing opening day win against Boston United, Southport left it late to pick up maximum points at Bradford Park Avenue and Leamington, and the perseverance shown to earn a draw here is another endorsement of the character already forged by this newly-assembled squad.

At full-time, the Southport players gathered together in a circle on the pitch and results such as this will only help their development.

The Sandgrounders’ relief, however, was tempered by the early departures of John Paul Kissock and Liam Martin who both finished the night in hospital. Kissock sustained an ankle injury, while Martin, the scorer of Southport’s first goal, left the pitch on a stretcher after suspected cruciate ligament damage.

Southport’s football had been good for most of the game, but having given themselves a mountain to climb with a two-goal half-time deficit, it was a question of whether they could find enough purpose to go with their neat play.

One of Southport’s main strengths in their opening matches has been their defensive resolve but the home team fell behind on eight minutes after a lapse in concentration.

James Hooper’s shot from the edge of the Southport area found the net via a deflection after latching onto a clearance from Curtis Jones.

The performance of FC United of Manchester belied their poor start to the season, and the visitors added to their lead just after the half-hour. Nathan Lowe profited on the space given to him to sweep home a first-time shot from 20 yards after Joel Senior had brought the ball in from the right.

At that stage, clear chances were difficult to come by for Southport against an FC United side who, once in front, were happy to defend deep.

Roberts was the central figure in Southport’s best work and after helping to create first-half chances for Kissock and Martin, he fashioned the goal which got the comeback underway on 63 minutes.

As Southport broke down the left wing, Roberts released Martin, who smartly exchanged passes with Andy White, before cutting into the box and finding the bottom right-hand corner with a composed finish. Sadly, it was to be Martin’s last contribution.

When Craig Lindfield scored FC United’s third goal, steering a Connor McCarthy cross inside the near post nine minutes later, it looked like the game had gone for Southport.

But after changes in personnel and shape, the Sandgrounders delivered a grandstand finish. Dugdale nudged the ball home from close range with the help of substitute Yves Zama, before Sampson scored the equaliser in the second minute of stoppage time.

The winning start may be over for Southport, but after a rousing finish to a gripping game, the full-time whistle was greeted with cheers once again.

 

Southport (3-5-2): Turner, Dugdale, C Jones, Smith (Zama 78), Jackson, Roberts, Kissock (Jennings 40), Fletcher, White, Sampson, Martin (E Jones 70).
Subs not used: Roache, Garner.

FC United of Manchester (4-1-4-1): Allinson, Senior, Fagbola, Hughes, Wisdom, Kay, Hooper (Linfield 66), Connor (Brown 83), Lowe, McCarthy, Gilchrist (Greaves 68).
Subs not used: Corbett, Logan.

Attendance: 1,270

Referee: James Bell

Report by Alan Jones

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