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Town Leave It Late
By: Rob Sedgwick
A DRAMATIC injury time equaliser by Cleveland Taylor rescued a precious point for Town. Grimsby had gone 1-0 and then 2-1 down at half time, with Southport outplaying the home side for long periods. It looked like Town would lose again at home until Taylor popped up in the box to send the Pontoon into raptures.
With other results going Town's way (Forest Green and Wrexham both lost) it turned out to be a good Saturday for the Mariners.
It didn't look that way at 3:20 when Southport took the lead. The visitors had started brightly, playing an open game without fear of the Mariners, in sharp contrast to Barrow's 10-men-behind-the ball approach in the previous game at Blundell Park.
Southport looked dangerous from corners and long throw ins all afternoon and they duly took the lead from a long throw in. The ball was flicked on and Ledsham sneaked in unmarked at the far post to silence the crowd.
Southport continued to look the more confident side and Town were struggling to string passes together. Whalley didn't give up on a long ball that looked to being going out and Thomas was forced to bring him down when Whalley skipped past them.
Town suddenly equalised out of the blue. Following a corner Cook had a speculative shot from 30 yards. It was the sort of shot that 9 times out of 10 wouldn't trouble the 'keeper but Hedge saw it late and the ball crept in past the Southport stopper.
It looked like it was going to be 1-1 at half time but the ref unusually played 3 mins injury time, during which Southport took the lead during a quick break. Whalley broke and picked out Ledsham who was unmarked, and stooped to head it past McKeown.
It had been an open first half with chances for both sides (more Southport than Town). The second half was fairly uneventful until Hearn and Taylor came on for Hannah and Marshall on the hour mark. The mere presence of Hearn on the pitch immediately lifted the crowd and some of that also rubbed off on the players. Hearn looked sharp and lively and saw lots of the ball in his first few minutes. The substitutions almost reaped immediate dividends when Pearson clipped the crossbar with a header from a free kick.
Town pressed forward with Southport less of a threat in the last 20 minutes. Once again the ref was generous with injury time, playing 4 minutes, and Town scored right at the start of it. The goal came from two substitutes, the much-maligned John Lewis found Taylor, who poked it in to the far corner from the six yard box.
With 3 minutes left the crowd roared Town forward for a winner but it was Southport who caused a few Town bums to squeak when Whalley's shot was blocked and went for a corner. In the end Town hung on for a valuable point, and Southport will have to try to add to their 51 point total if they want to be sure of staying up. In truth they were the better side, played some good football, and deserve to be in this division next season.
Town's relentless schedule continues next week with two away games in the south east, firstly in Kent at Dartford, then in Bedfordshire at Luton. A win in either of those games will probably enough to secure a play-off spot.
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