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F.A. Trophy 3rd Round


Arnold (57), Lane (64), Marsh (90) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

(0) 3

(0) 0



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Stuart Lake



Leigh RMI (H) 27.1.01

The Pitmen crash out of this season's F.A. Trophy at the first hurdle as league rivals Southport confidently dispatch of a dreadful Hednesford side courtesy of three second-half goals

Last weekend's late Keith Russell goal had earned Hednesford a crucial point at Hayes to leave them two points from safety in the Nationwide Conference. Player/manager Neil Pointon took the opportunity to make changes to his squad for today's break from league duty as Pointon himself returned to the side as one of four changes to the side that had started at Church Road, with Neil Davis, Stuart Lake and Mark Cooper joining him in the XI at the expense of the quartet of Scott Goodwin, Russell Bradley, Val Owen and Paul Bagshaw

High-flying Southport - sitting in third place in the National League - were in the midst of a ropey run of recent form, with only one win in their last six games against local rivals Morecambe on New Year's Day. Manager Mark Wright made two changes to his Sandgrounders side from the one that had been beaten 3-1 by second-placed Rushden & Diamonds last weekend as former Aston Villa defender Shaun Teale replaced Phil Bolland and Simon Parke came in ahead of Dino Maamria up front

It was a chilly and occasionally wet afternoon, with the wind constantly whipping in over the Haig Avenue pitch from the Irish Sea throughout. Wright's men could have taken an early lead in the third minute as former Liverpool star Mike Marsh chipped a free-kick from the left-hand side into the penalty area and into the head of Teale, whose glancing effort dropped just wide of Stuart Ford's left-hand post

Skipper Lee Colkin was the next man in navy blue to deny the hosts in the seventh minute as he slid in at the near post to turn a dangerous-looking low cross from Scott Guyett behind for a corner to the Sandgrounders before Parke could get in front of Stuart Lake

A quickly-taken free-kick from Andy Gouck two minutes later was latched onto by Parke, who shimmied his way past Mark Haran and pulled the ball back to Guyett, whose weakly-struck effort was easily saved by Ford

Ford's attempted clearance out of his own half on eleven minutes caught the gusty wind and swung back into the Hednesford half, allowing Ian Arnold time to take the ball down the left and force his way past a retreating Jake Sedgemore, only for the former Kidderminster Harriers schemer to fire into the open terrace housing the shivering Hednesford fans

The Pitmen's first foray into Southport territory came through a Pointon free-kick on thirteen minutes as the veteran full-back clipped the ball into the box from wide on the left and into the six-yard box, where goalkeeper Steve Dickinson managed to get enough purchase on the ball ahead of Haran to push the ball away from danger

Arnold was once again proving to be a slippery customer for the Hednesford players as his vision played a delightful pass 'around the corner' to Gouck three minutes later, only for an offside flag against the player to halt his progress

Ford made a competent stop to deny Guyett once more on twenty minutes as Lake's attempted clearance fell to Marsh, whose square pass set up his fellow midfielder twenty-five yards from goal. The former Gresley Rovers man struck a rising shot that Ford turned over the crossbar for a corner kick

Davis had struggled to get much change out of his former Villa team-mate Teale thus far, with the Pitmen's top scorer scuffing a tame effort well wide of goal midway through the half after Micky Norbury had headed Colkin's pass into his path eighteen yards from goal

A deep cross from right-back Chris Lane on twenty-six minutes was headed back across goal by Parke, who beat Haran to the ball and nodded back into the danger zone. However, on-one in amber and black could get their toe on the loose ball and Sedgemore completed the clearance

Ford was right behind a free-kick from Marsh on twenty-nine minutes after Lake had fouled Arnold just to the left of the Hednesford penalty area, prompting the former West Ham man to curl his effort over the wall but straight into the arms of the former Scarborough stopper

Lane was involved again for the Sandgrounders going forwards four minutes later as he made an overlapping run beyond Gouck and took the ball to the byeline, standing up a cross to the far post that Haran managed to head away in front of the incoming Neil Grayston, who would have had the simple task of heading into the empty net at the far post

Marsh's resultant corner kick was looped into the darkening skies by Teale, forcing Ford into coming off his line to just get enough on the ball to palm it away from the looming Guyett

Scott Bonsall gave the Pitmen some welcome respite from the Southport pressure with nine minutes of the first half remaining, carrying the ball fully forty yards before drawing a foul out of Teale. Lake took the free-kick and clipped it into the penalty area, where Haran rose highest but headed well wide of the woodwork as Teale did enough to put him off

Parke's low driven shot on forty minutes was pushed away by Ford down to his right, with Tom Griffiths on hand to turn the loose ball behind for a corner kick ahead of Arnold. Marsh's corner kick caused the Pitmen more issues as they looked to clear their lines, with Ford coming off worst in a clash with Mark Stuart and requiring attention from physio Don Drakeley on a knock to his ankle

With a couple of minutes of the first period remaining, a neat spell of play in midfield from the hosts saw Guyett and Gouck play Marsh into space thirty yards from goal. The midfield schemer sold Lake a clever dummy before shooting from long range but lifting his effort just over Ford's crossbar

The Pitmen will have been relieved to hear the half-time whistle and regroup after a first half dominated by the hosts, who had done everything but take the lead against a shaky-looking Hednesford side that was being overrun in midfield, allowing the likes of Marsh and Guyett to dictate the tempo of the game. Ford's earlier knock was too much for the stopper to continue after the break, with regular goalkeeper Mark Gayle coming on in his place at the start of the second half

Wright's players upped the ante further at the start of the second period, forcing three successive corners as they were roared on by their supporters housed behind Ford's goal. On fifty minutes, Marsh's floated cross from the right was flicked into the air by Teale and in the path of Parke, who couldn't get enough purchase on the ball and weakly headed straight at Gayle from eight yards out

Neat possession play from the Sandgrounders three minutes later saw Marsh and Guyett combine to send Arnold away down the right, teasing his way past Griffiths and seeing his pass bobble neatly into the path of Gouck, whose first-time effort was only a few inches too high as it sailed into the home supporters

The hosts finally made the breakthrough on fifty-seven minutes as another neat passing move finally opened up the stubborn Hednesford back line; Lane's pass into the feet of Marsh allowed the midfielder to turn past Sedgemore, holding off the youngster's attentions before playing a delightful through ball into the path of Arnold, who had the simple task of sidefooting the ball past the advancing Gayle from fifteen yards out

Skipper Colkin looked to get his side going and made a marauding run down the left flank to latch onto Bonsall's pass three minutes later, taking Lane out of the game with a fine touch beyond the full-back and reaching the byeline, although his pull-back to Davis was slightly behind the striker and limited the Pitmen's top scorer to a scuffed effort wide of Dickinson's right-hand post

Southport doubled their advantage on sixty-four minutes and left the Pitmen with a mountain to climb as another flowing move created a chance for Lane. Gouck picked up Stuart's quickly-taken free-kick down the left flank, playing a quick one-two with Arnold before crossing for substitute Stuart Whittaker, whose flick-on at the near post was headed into the roof of the net at the far post by Lane, standing unmarked just six yards from goal

This seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Pitmen, who had struggled to make inroads into the Southport backline all afternoon long. Lake headed high over the crossbar midway through the second half as he beat Martin Clark to Pointon's free-kick at the near post but diverted his header into the away following behind the goal

On seventy minutes, Arnold was once again proving to be a nuisance to the Pitmen with his craft, jinking past Haran and playing a delightful disguised pass into the path of Parke, who seemed a little surprised that there was no offside flag against him and rushed his effort by slicing it wide of goal from sixteen yards out

Gayle was called upon to make a good save to deny Marsh on seventy-five minutes, turning the midfielder's well-struck free-kick from twenty-five yards out away and around his post for a Southport corner after Parke had been hauled to the floor by Haran

Norbury's frustration at a lack of goalscoring chances culminated in a frustrated yellow card for the hardman two minutes later as referee Mr Coffey booked the former Halifax Town man for a crude challenge to stop Clark from playing out from the back

Substitute Lee Elam could have added a third for the hosts on eighty-three minutes as he made a perfectly-timed run in behind Griffiths to pick up Arnold's pass, but drive his angled shot across the face of Gayle's goal and just wide of the far post

With five minutes remaining and the Pitmen almost resigned to their fate, Grayston exchanged passes with Whitaker to play Arnold into space on the edge of the penalty area; his low driven shot took two bounces off the soft and muddy turf before Gayle managed to parry the shot away on his six-yard line

Marsh capped off a fine individual display with a third and final Southport goal in the first of three minutes of added time as the hosts were awarded a late and controversial penalty kick by Mr Coffey. Marsh's searching pass found Arnold once more, with the forward tricking his way past Cooper before Lake made what appeared to be a fine block tackle right on the edge of the penalty area. To the Pitmen's amazement, Mr Coffey awarded Southport a penalty kick, deeming Lake's challenge illegal. The Pitmen's players surrounded the referee to protest, with Cooper taking his argument a little too far and was booked

After the referee had finally restored order, Marsh stepped up to take the resultant spot-kick and sent Gayle the wrong way from twelve yards out to complete a comfortable passage through to the next round for the home side

It had been another poor display from the Pitmen, who had once again fallen at the first hurdle in the F.A. Trophy, a competition they have historically struggled to make gains in over the years and has proven to be again today. Focus shifts back to their fight to remain in the Nationwide Conference next weekend as the Pitmen travel to fifth-placed Stevenage Borough, in desperate need of the points to close the gap between themselves and the pack directly above them in the table

Southport: Dickinson, Lane (Elam 67), Stuart (Whittaker 58), Clark, Guyett, Teale, Marsh, Gouck, Arnold, Parke, Grayston      Subs Unused: Linighan, Morgan, Macauley

Hednesford Town: Ford (Gayle 45), Sedgemore, Griffiths, Pointon, Lake, Haran, Bonsall, Cooper , Davis, Norbury , Colkin ©       Subs Unused: Russell, Shakespeare, Brown, Rhodes

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