Southport 1, Harriers 0

GARY Whild felt Harriers let their high standards slip as they suffered their first defeat in the Vanarama Conference this season on Tuesday night.

The Reds were shot down by Joe Connor’s first half strike.

But it was a frustrating night for the Aggborough outfit who pushed in the second half for a leveller but suffered their first defeat in eight games.

They also could not take advantage of Sandgrounders striker Richard Brodie being sent off late on for two bookable offences.

Whild had pulled a surprise before the game when he handed a first league start for Reece Styche in a Kidderminster shirt, which saw Nathan Blissett, who had scored against Gateshead on Saturday, drop to the bench.

If Styche was of the mindset of wanting to pay back Whild for the faith shown in starting him, he certainly set about that business well in the early stages, forcing two good saves from home goalkeeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston within a couple of minutes at the beginning of the night – a header that was palmed away off Marvin Johnson’s cross, followed up by a driven effort from distance that the stopper dealt with well.

Southport’s Brodie had an eventful first quarter of an hour; shown an early yellow for a late lunge on Johnson, the hit-man came within inches of opening the scoring just after as he dragged a firm shot just shy of the far post after edging his way past Chey Dunkley to release the shot.

That shifted Southport high into the ascendency and after a spell of control they took the lead just after the mid-way point of the half, a corner whipped into the box and met by a powerful header from Connor which eventually found its way into the back of the net.

From there the contest became a little more even and Southport were indebted to Lloyd-Weston in the final minutes of the first half as he met Craig Reid’s header off a Kyle Storer cross with a strong save to force the ball over the bar when it looked destined for the top corner.

It was almost 2-0 seven minutes after the break as Harriers struggled to deal with another decent delivery into the area – Scott Kay met it with a good backward header but could only watch as it bounced off the upright.

Blissett was thrown into the mix soon after the hour and he was among the danger soon after, seeing a shot deflected away for a corner after fine work from Johnson, before seeing Southport’s McDonald claw away another attempt at close-range.

It was perhaps inevitable that Brodie would end up in hot water after being booked so early on and so it proved in the final moments as he was sent off for a second bookable offence having left an elbow in on Gowling.

FRUSTRATED In the end Southport negotiated five minutes of added time successfully leaving Whild frustrated.

He said: “It was nowhere near good enough in terms of the standards we’ve set ourselves.

“We hadn’t got that enthusiasm or a desire to get on the ball and influence the game, so it was disappointing.

“In the second half we huffed and puffed but didn’t really have enough quality to hurt their goalkeeper.

“We have lost just one game game in eight so the positive, I suppose, is that we’ve got to get back on the bike on Saturday and make sure we go to Braintree and put it right.”