Southport are still waiting for their first win of the Vanarama National League season after they were beaten at home by Gateshead.
The Sandgrounders will reflect on an encouraging second-half performance – as well as the face that the scored their first goal of the new xampain – but Paul Carden’s team were unable to make their good play count.
Having fought back from a goal down, Southport were beaten by Josh Gillies’ decisive penalty, leaving them in the bottom four in the early league table.
Gateshead took the lead after only five minutes, as a right-wing free-kick from Patrick McLaughlin was knocked back cross goal by Nathan Buddle, enabling Ryan Bowman, the National League’s leading goalscorer, to nudge the ball home.
In truth, Gateshead could have been out of sight in the opening stages, Gillies being foiled by the legs of goalkeeper Andy Coughlin, who twice kept out efforts from Buddle.
And the closest the visitors came to a second was on 27 minutes, when Bowman fired a fierce drive against the underside of the crossbar, with the ball being judged not to have crossed the goal-line.
Slowly, the Sandgrounders worked their way into the game and, 309 minutes into the new season without finding the target, they scored with a goal that was worth the wait. With an excellent piece of skill, Louis Almond brought the ball down before finding the bottom right-hand corner with a fine strike from 25 yards, giving the home team parity at the break.
And what a difference a goal made. Suddenly, there was a real energy to the Sandgrounders’ play, Mike Phenix missing the home team’s best chance with the goal gaping after Gateshead defender Simon Ramsden had turned a long goal-kick from Coughlin against his own post.
But for all their good play, Southport were unable to capitalise and Gateshead regained the lead on 69 minutes, Josh Gillies scoring a penalty after Bowman had been tripped by Josh Thompson.
Jamie Allen should have equalised but he sent a free header over the crossbar when arriving in the box to meet a Paul Rutherford centre.
Southport: Coughlin, Challoner, Beesley, Nolan, Thompson, Foster, G Jones, Blakeman, Almond (McCarthy 58), Phenix (Rutherford 79), Cameron (Allen 70).
Subs not used: Viscosi, Joyce.
Gteshead: Russell, Baxter, Chandler (Phillips 55), Clark, Shaw, Gillies, Buddle (Ramshaw 33), Cranston, Bowman, Ramsden, McLaughlin (Johnson 66).
Subs not used: MacDonald, Allen.
Attendance: 806 (42 away).
Referee: Wayne Barratt.