George spot on for ’Port in Trophy win
GEORGE Newell completed an emotional return from injury to score the winning penalty as Southport overcame Darlington in a shoot-out to progress in the Buildbase FA Trophy.
After 11 months on the sidelines with a broken leg, Newell returned to the field for the first time as a late substitute before rolling home the decisive spotkick.
The game was scheduled to take place on Saturday but high winds put paid to that and it was moved to Tuesday evening.
After a draw in regular time, the Port progressed with five flawless penalties, Connor Woods, Marcus Carver, Josh Hmami, Charlie Oliver and Newell all converting, while Tony McMillan saved from Ben Hedley.
Having taken an early lead through Jordan Archer, the Port should have won the tie inside the 90 minutes, controlling most of the game and being denied twice by the woodwork in the second half.
This was a ninth game without defeat at Haig Avenue for Liam Watson’s side and they made the perfect start, Archer converting a fourth-minute header after a surging run and cross from Niall Watson. originally
There was a sharpness to the home side’s attacking play, Doug Tharme delivering a good ball which just missed the head of Archer again before a nice exchange between Charlie Munro and Hmami had threatened to unlock the Darlington defence, only for the visitors to clear.
Archer also sent the ball over with a clever flick after Munro and Woods had combined.
The visitors had their moments, too, Jarrett Rivers drawing a good early save from McMillan, making his 249th appearance in the Port goal, before Nathan Charman also went close.
The Port should have extended their lead early in the second half as they were twice denied by the crossbar in the space of two minutes.
Archer saw an effort from the edge of the area cannon off the woodwork, before Woods did likewise with a scorching effort from range.
It was a reprieve that Darlington seized, Charman equalising on the hour by finding the bottom right-hand corner after a good turn on the edge of the area.
For a brief period, the visitors threatened to take the initiative, Jack Lamber’s low shot taking a deflection just wide but it was Southport who finished the stronger.
Marcus Carver, on as a substitute, saw his effort cleared from under the bar by Jake Lawlor after spotting Tom Taylor out of his goal.
It meant the game was settled by penalties, Newell converting after McMillan had saved from Hedley as Southport progress to the third round away at Farsley.
Though delighted to progress in the competition, manager Liam Watson was not entirely satisfied with the display.
“Performance-wide, especially first half, I thought it was reall, really poor. Nowhere near what we have been int eh last few weeks. I had made changes and what I would say is that Tony McMillan was probably our best player! Your goalkeeper gets man of the match.
“I don’t think we played with any intensity, we didn’t move the ball quick enough – if the pitch is wet you’ve got to move ot quick and we ended up getting closed down too many times. Our wide players ended up playing like wingbacks, they didn’t get forward and were letting Darlington’s wing backs run passed them. The performance first half was car crash but we managed to stay in there.
“We missed a lot of chances in the second half – they missed chances as well to be fair. There wasn’t a lot in the game, I wouldn’t say there was an awful lot of quality on show from either side and 1-1 was a fair result. They were two good goals – Charman scored a good goal and Jordan Archer scored a good one for us.
“It keeps our winning run going and we move on to the next round.
“It was always going to be a tough game, it was never a pleasant draw and I feel sorry for Darlington because it’s rubbish when they’ve had to travel down. It’s no fault of anyone’s, it was because of the conditions.
No one could be happier than me for George to get the winning penalty
They are good people at Darlo and you think ‘this should have been done Saturday’ but circumstances meant it couldn’t. They have been to Southport twice in the last few weeks on a Tuesday night.
“It could have gone either way. They’ll probably think they should have won, we’ll thin we should have won in 90 minutes but it goes to penalties and no one could be happier than me for George to get the final, winning penalty.
“It was a treacherous night but the fans kept us going right to the end and sometimes it’s a great way to win, when you haven’t played well.”
SOUTHPORT: McMillan, Oliver, Anson, Tharme (Buckley-Ricketts 51), Woods, Munro, Archer (Newell 87), Hmami, Watson (Carver 72), Bainbridge, Edwards. Subs not used: Mason, Vassallo.
DARLINGTON: Taylor, Hedley, Hatfield, Charman, Rivers (Mondal 71), Lambert, Lawlor, Purver, Griffiths (Dos Santos 61), Cooper, Ellis. Subs not used: Smith, Wheatley, Martin.
REFEREE: Michael Crusham