Southport 1 Everton U23 2

Report By James Pendleton

Southport concluded their pre-season schedule with a 2-1 defeat to Everton’s under-23 side to put an end to The Port’s run of three straight victories.

Former Blue Jack Bainbridge notched his second in as many home games after converting from a long throw-in after 20 minutes to open the scoring, before Charlie Whittaker and Sean McAllister scored after half-time to turn the game around in The Blues’ favour.

Josh Hmami saw a late penalty well saved by Zan-Luk Leban to keep the away side ahead and seal the victory for the Premier League Two side.

The Yellows had the first chance of the game as a dangerous Hmami corner caused confusion in the Blues’ box, with Leban grateful to claim the loose ball after Niall Watson swung goalward.

Watson again went close soon after as Jack Doyle dinked a delightful ball to the far post, but the winger had little to aim for and knocked his header just wide. His personal assault on the Toffees’ goal didn’t stop there, though, as he arrowed a shot into the side netting after being put through by Bainbridge on the quarter hour mark.

The pressure did finally tell just five minutes later, as another long Doyle throw caused chaos in Leban’s penalty box, with Bainbridge eventually turning the ball home for his second of pre-season and giving Southport a deserved lead.

David Unworth’s men began to work their way into the game after that, with their best chance of the half coming through a Stanley Mills free-kick which was deflected narrowly wide, before the dangerous Tom Cannon headed wide shortly after.

Normal service resumed towards the end of the half, as Watson continued a fine first 45 by skinning Seb Quirk down the right before his cut-back was deflected through the legs of Leban and scrambled to safety.

It would be the away side quickest out the blocks for the second period, however, as Charlie Whittaker took aim and fired a ferocious effort from the edge of the area into Cam Mason’s top right corner to level the game.

Southport didn’t take that hit lying down, though, and fought back into the game, as a superb Connor Woods cross found the head of the electric Watson, but his header flew over Leban’s bar and behind.

Despite that pressure, it would be Everton to take the lead as substitute Sean McAllister set off on a mazy run down the left, before cutting inside and firing into the bottom left corner.

Everton had their goalkeeper to thank for preserving that lead shortly after, as both Munro and Tharme had efforts well tipped aside by the Toffees shot stopper, as Connor Woods and Niall Watson squandered further chances to level the score.

Josh Hmami – who was substituted back on following an injury to Niall Watson – then won a penalty after he was wiped out by Sebastian Kristensen in the 80th minute, but he couldn’t find his first Southport goal as Leban denied him excellently before diving on the loose ball.

Some good work by Trialist A then set Bainbridge away to bear down on the visitors’ goal, but his eventual effort was wayward and didn’t trouble Leban as the game finished 2-1.

The defeat brings to an end a three game winning run, but Liam’s side can be proud of their efforts today.

Southport: Cam Mason (GK) (66), Charlie Oliver, Adam Anson, Doug Tharme, Jack Doyle; Russ Benjamin © (72), Jack Bainbridge; Dylan Vassallo (45) (72), Josh Hmami (45) (81), Niall Watson (81); Marcus Carver (66).

Subs: Connor Woods (45), Charlie Munro (45), Tony McMillan (GK) (66), A Trialist (66)

Everton: Zan-Luk Leban (GK), Sebastian Quirk, Jarrad Branthwaite (52), Ryan Astley, Joe Anderson (76); Luke Butterfield (66), Stanley Mills, Isaac Price (66), Mackenzie Hunt (52), Charlie Whittaker, Tom Cannon (76).

Subs: Reece Welch (52), Jack Barrett, Lewis Warrington (66), Sean McAllister (52), Liam Higgins (66), Sebastian Kristensen (76), Rafael Garcia (76)

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