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Southport 1 Harriers 3

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Date: 23-03-13gif Venue: Haig Avenuegif att: 946gif away fans: 212
Harriers leave it late to win

gif Report by Philip Lench
The Harriers arrived in Southport today for a game that would hopefully stretch their lead at the top of the table to three points following the earlier news that Mansfields home game against Macclesfield had fallen foul of the overnight snow.  Up in Lancashire it hadn't been so bad but what snow there had been was cleared admirably by the Southport fans.

Premier Sports were in town too to broadcast the game and amazingly, or stupidly overlooked, it was the first time this season that the Harriers had been screened.  We're obviously not as attractive as Forest Green or lowly, mid table Luton Town.

Kyle Storer came back into the starting eleven following his two game absence while Martin Devaney made his second start in recent games.  The usual occupant of the right wing, Marvin Johnson, didn't make the bench this time but that could be down to the heavy conditions lately not suiting his style of play.  In his place on the bench was a more suitable option in Danny Pilkington.

Southport were giving debuts to a new keeper, Ben Smith, and also a new strike, Danny Hattersley.

In high winds the home side got the game underway firing towards the 212 Harriers fans and that was down to them having the wind to their backs.  The Reds were finding it hard going trying to defend into the wind and that was messing up what little possession we were having.  Southport were having by far the best of it.

Countless times they swept past our back four but suspect shooting and the wind wasn't helping them much.  They had an early claim for a penalty when Andy Owens went down rather too easily under an almost non existent challenge from Storer but the referee, Mr Handley (FROM LANCASHIRE????) dismissed the shouts from Southport for it.  Minutes later Storer found himself in the book once more for another innocuous challenge.

Hattersley tried his luck next and his shot was handled poorly by Danny Lewis but dropped luckily for Owens to force over the line but he somehow managed to skie it over the bar instead.  Alan Moogan also sent a chance over the bar and that was going to be the story of the early moments in the game for Southport.

Our first chance of the game fell to Anthony Malbon just before the twenty minutes when he pounced onto a slip in from Mickey Demetriou but failed to control it properly and he found himself robbed by a home defender.  He could also have done better with a Martin Devaney cross but he just could not get his head to it early enough.

Devaney whipped another great cross in minutes later that was also missed, this time by two players and the keeper, and drifted along the byeline then out for a far side throw in.

With halftime fast approaching it looked like both sides would be going in goal less.  The best chances in the game had gone Southports way but their failure to convert the major part of the possession they had been allowed to have by the fumbling Harriers midfield was going to unwanted consequences.

With just three minutes left to play in the first half Lee Vaughan managed to get behind the defenders to send over a great, sweeping cross that Smith could only parry into the path of Michael Gash.  With no defender near him he coolly, calmedly controlled the ball and drilled his shot into the goal for a short distance out.
  HT: 0 - 1
The second period re-commenced with Karl Ledsham being withdrawn by Southport and replaced by Chris Almond.  Almond seemed to give the home side more composure in the game and they continued to control the game even though they were now playing into the wind.  Still the Harriers struggled to make any real impression on the game and they were made to pay for that in the worst way possible.

First we had a sound call for a penalty waved away when Malbon was chopped down by the keeper when he had just broken into the area and about to shoot.  Again the ref was having none of it but then from nowhere Danny Hattersley suddenly appeared with the ball at his feet and made a beeline towards the Harriers goal.  Josh Gowling started to back pedal and by the time that he realised he was in trouble the on loan Stockport striker had picked his spot to one side of Lewis and took aim.  The ball curled around Danny and into the net to bring the home side deservedly level.

They should have been in front almost straight away after when Shaun Whalleys' dipping shot struck the top of the bar.  That was the signal for a change.

On came Danny Pilkington and James Vincent for Martin Devaney and Keith Briggs.  The transformation was about to begin and within a few minutes we began to look a different side.  A side at the top of the League.

The midfield started to compete more.  We forced Southport on to the back foot and fought for every ball giving them no space at all.  Pilkington was at the forefront of this sea change and instead of waiting for the ball to come to him a là Devaney he made sure that the ball was his and fought all the way.  This, in my view, inspired the rest of the team and gave them the belief.

Pilkington tried his luck from wide out but his cross come shot was straight at the keeper but even then he almost made a hash of it and hurriedly tipped it over the bar.  Danny Jackman was now coming into the game more after struggling in the first half and his cross to Malbon allowed him to break through for a shot but the keeper saved well.  Ironically that was Jackmans last part played in the game because he made way for Ryan Rowe just a minute later.

With both our leading scorers on the pitch, although some say they can't play together, the Harriers took the lead once more and this time with a wonder strike from Malbon.

With just four minutes of normal time to play it looked like the game was heading for our first draw since November at Woking.  The ball fell right for Malbon some thirty yards out and, with his left foot, he took aim and sent a screaming shot way beyond the possibility of the Southport keeper stopping it.  A minute or two later the game was well and truly over.

A mess up in the Southport defence let in Pilkington again.  He tried a speculative lobbed shot that the keeper could only push onto the bar and then down into his arms to be fumbled away to the incoming Rowe to bundle the ball over the line for his first goal since the turn of the year.

A minute later the final whistle blew and with a later result going our way at Stockport where Newport lost out to, pleasingly, a Lee Minshull own goal, we extended our lead at the top.  We now have Woking at home on Tuesday evening and we could easily extend our lead further with three more points against them.
  FT: 1 - 3

 Goal for Southport: Hattersley 58
 Goals for Harriers: Gash 43, Malbon 86, Rowe 90


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gif Danny Pilkington



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Southport  goals   subs   cards      Harriers  goals   subs   cards 
B Smith     Lewis  
Chalmers     L Vaughan  
Lever     Demetriou  
Moogan gif     Storer
Parry     Dunkley
Grand     Gowling
Whalley gif     Jackman gif  
Ledsham gif     Briggs gif  
Owens     Gash gif  
Poku     Malbon gif  
Hattersley gif     Devaney gif  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Hibbert     N Vaughan  
N Byrne     Vincent gif  
Clancey gif     Pilkington gif  
Kay gif     Gittings  
Almond gif     Rowe gif gif  

REFEREE:
Mr D Handley
Lancashire




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