FLEETWOOD PICK A POCKET OR TWO
By Graham Ellis
In Oliver parlance the home side played the Artful Dodger role to perfection, Southport the unwitting Mr Bumble. Please sir, no more!
FLEETWOOD 17 SOUTHPORT 14 by Mike Smith
New season, new kit, emblazoned with the logo of new sponsors EFT Group, yet it was a case of déjà vu as Southport returned to action last Saturday away to Fleetwood and managed to come off second best with a losing bonus point in a match they so might have won.
Fleetwood got off to a perfect start when from the kick off they gained a penalty which allowed a kick to the corner. From the ensuing lineout, Fleetwood ran hard from the rucks, and played the phases before a long pass to the left wing found the gap and put the home side on the scoreboard. However, Southport immediately responded from the restart. Great work from Tom Hill allowed Southport to regain possession, and captain Dan Whalen found Kristin Griffiths cutting a line through the defence to take play deep into the Fleetwood 22. The forwards carried well before Danny Banks worked the ball to Dan Cresswell and the centre finished off under the sticks.
Southport immediately began to settle into the match and were further boosted by dominance at the scrum. Anchored by front row Billy Murphy, Calum Monaghan and Tom Smith, the Southport pack twice drove the heavier opposition scrum back, latterly to earn a penalty kick which drifted wide of the posts. Southport continued to dominate, and a Tom Hill run again took play into Fleetwood territory where the home side could only thwart the attacking visitors by infringing. Southport chose to set the scrum, and Gareth Lang subsequently picked from the base and crashed over to increase the lead. And as the half continued, Southport maintained the pressure, with Sam Cross and Tom Smith carrying hard. However, despite the dominance, another missed kick at goal and stout Fleetwood defence meant that Southport were unable to add to their lead before the break. Half time: Fleetwood 5 Southport 14.
The sides turned around, and Southport made the changes, bringing on Rob White in the front row and Jake Pagan to make his first team debut, but the visitors continued to press. With forwards again carrying hard, Fleetwood could only nullify the threat by infringing, and saw a second player of the match yellow carded. However, Southport could not make the most of the numerical advantage, and Fleetwood cleared their lines and made a rare visit into the Southport half. And from a scrum inside their own 22, Southport lost possession in midfield, and Fleetwood were quick to gather the lose ball and score in the corner.
From the restart, Southport looked to immediately respond, and set up an attack that saw them once again inside the opposition’s 22. But a loose pass was intercepted as the Fleetwood right winger plucked the ball out of the air and won the foot race to score under the sticks. With only minutes left, Southport tried everything to get back into a scoring position, but despite another Hill break, the Fleetwood defence held firm and Southport left wondering what might have been. So, not the start that Southport wanted, but with a long season ahead, Southport have a chance to make amends as they look forward to their first home game of the season next Saturday and a local derby with the visit of Tarleton. Final score: Fleetwood 17 Southport 14.