Tom Clarke reports as the Sandgrounders grind out narrow win to end Marine’s five-game win streak against higher league opposition…
Niall Watson’s first-half goal was enough to see Southport through to the Third Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy on Tuesday evening against a Marine team with several key players missing.
Niall Cummins and Mikey Howard were both named on the bench for the game but didn’t make it onto the field as they nurse respective face and leg injuries, with Josh Solomon-Davies also out of the matchday squad.
The Mariners started the game very much on the front foot, and Anthony Miley almost caught out his namesake McMillan in the visitors’ goal with a long-range effort inside ten minutes.
Neil Kengni started the game with No. 9 on his back and offered Marine something different leading the line with his pace and willingness to chase down every ball. He struck the crossbar just a minute after Miley’s chance, turning well in the box when receiving a Ryan Wignall cross but seeing his effort come back off the woodwork.
Wignall went close to scoring himself shortly after with a shot from the edge of the box which forced another save out of McMillan.
Josh Hmami was played through on goal midway through the half after a great ball from midfield, but the ‘keeper got down well again to save.
Former Mariner and visiting manager’s son Niall Watson opened the scoring against the run of play on 34 minutes for Southport, finding space in the box before burying an effort past Bayleigh Passant.
The Sandgrounders almost doubled their lead immediately after, but for a strong sliding challenge from James Joyce to cut out the attack and halt the away momentum.
Marine had the chance to pull one back on the stroke of half time when James Barrigan dummied a pass for Hmami to cross onto the head of Jay Devine, but the former Tranmere youth captain’s effort was narrowly over the crossbar.
The Mariners continued to push for an equaliser following the break, and Hmami went close again after Adam Hughes had taken a couple of Southport defenders out of the game in midfield before playing a long ball to Kengni, who chested the ball down and sent it into Hmami, but the midfielder’s shot was wide of the mark.
Southport pushed back though, and Jordan Archer had a double-chance midway into the second period when he struck the post from a set-piece before his second effort was into the hands of Passant.
Marine sent Anthony Miley upfield in the closing stages of the game to search for an equaliser, and had one ruled out in stoppage time for offside when the flag went up against a gold and black shirt. That equaliser eventually proved elusive, as the visitors progressed to the next round and ended the Mariners’ eleven-game win streak in cup competitions this season.
Neil Young’s side now turn their attentions back to the league, as it resumes this Saturday 19th December at 3pm with a trip to Kendal Town.
Marine: Bayleigh Passant, Kenny Strickland, James Joyce, Jay Devine (Hayden Campbell, 64), Anthony Miley, David Raven, Ryan Wignall, Josh Hmami, Neil Kengni, Adam Hughes, James Barrigan.
Unused subs: Danny Shaw, Germano Mendes, Mikey Howard, Niall Cummins.
Southport: Anthony McMillan, Matthew Challoner, Dean Winnard, Mo Ali, Russell Benjamin, Cameron Antwi (Jack Bainbridge, 90), David Morgan, George Newell (Marcus Carver, 70), Jordan Archer, Dylan Vassallo, Niall Watson.
Unused subs: Daniel Hanford, Connor Woods, Charles Oliver.
Goals: Niall Watson (34).
Referee: Jon Kenny. Assistant referees: Luis Griffiths, Richard Morris.
Images by Paul Moran.