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Undeserved? point at Haig Avenue

FT: Southport 1    1 Tamworth

20 September 2005

Tamworth arrived at Haig Avenue following a fine display against Grays and boss Mark Cooper fielded an unchanged starting eleven to face the Sandgrounders – the first time the two clubs had met for 22 years since The Lambs dark days of the 1980s in the Northern Premier League.

After an initial opening flurry of possession for The Lambs, Southport put their foot on the ball a little but the game remained free flowing with both sides passing well without actually causing any problems for either defences. Neither side managed to be able to put more than two or three passes together without the ‘keeper collecting or defences clearing any danger with relative ease.

However, in the 13th minute Southport’s midfield danger man Carl Baker released Terry Fearns but the Southport striker was unable to lift the ball goalward over the onrushing James Dormand, and as if in response to the previous threat, Darren Mansaram unleashed a 25-yard shot which flew inches wide of the right hand upright seconds later.

Matt Redmile perhaps should have left the ball for Darren Campbell at the far post from a Scott Stamps' freekick and headed the ball wide on 25 minutes as Tamworth continued to try to force their way through a hardworking Southport defence but still the final ball let down both sides in an open game.

Terry Fearns was allowed a free header over the bar as The Lambs defence uncharacteristically were left wanting and the home side continued to have the majority of possession as the first half drew to a close.

At times the play on the field resembled a game of pinball with headers cancelling out long balls forward and defences seemingly happy to launch the ball forward in the hope of a quick burst of pace.

A good run down the wing by Tris Whitman forced the Lambs' first corner in stoppage time at the end of the first period but Southport cleared the danger.

Southport’s Neil Fitzhenry was sent from the field of play for raising his hands against Dave Bampton on 48 minutes and that prompted Cooper to bring on Bob Taylor for Julian Alsop.

But on 52 minutes Carl Baker latched onto a flick-on from a long ball forward from a free kick inside the Southport half, and slipped his low shot past Dormand to make it 1-0 to the 10 men.

At a goal down Cooper gambled by bringing on James Francis (for Darren Campbell) but his side struggled to put any attacking moves together as Southport defended in numbers and pushed The Lambs back into their own half.

Redmile had the first real effort on target for Tamworth on the hour mark with a header at Jamie Speare from a Francis cross from the right, but it was easy for the home keeper.

Francis continued to make a menace of himself down the right, forcing a corner on 73 and despite Taylor seemingly being felled in the area as the ball came in, the former West Brom marksman was denied his penalty appeal.

Adie Smith almost latched onto a curled in low cross from Whitman on 81 but was inches away from the ball at the far post as Tamworth struggled to create chances despite the numerical advantage although a long range effort by Francis was easy for Speare minutes later.

Southport gave as good as they got and continued to look for openings, with sub Kevin Leadbetter shooting wide after Tamowrth failed to clear.

On 86 McGinn lost marker Jimmy Turner just past the half way line and squared for Leadbetter who, with a clear sight on goal, saw his effort stopped by Aaron Brown and eventually recovered by Dormand as Southport exposed gaps in the Lambs' defence.

A massive six minutes of stoppage time gave Tamworth a lifeline and as if from nowhere Bob Taylor flicked on a ball on the edge of the six-yard box for Carl Heggs to push home from just inches out for a share of the spoils.

Boss Cooper was furious about the home side's opening goal, which seemed to come about when Bob Taylor was ruled offside from a goal kick, but was happy that his side had got a point from the encouter. "We need to be scoring goals. Only Bob Taylor and Carl Heggs looked hungry tonight."

Tamworth 4-4-2 (unchanged v Grays)
Turner Redmile, Brown, Stamps
Campbell (Francis 56), Smith, Bampton, Whitman
Mansaram (Heggs 82), Alsop (Taylor 49)

Unused: Ward, Storer

1-0 Baker (53)
1-1 Heggs (97)

Yellow Cards
Stamps 88
Heggs 97
Pickford 97

Red Cards
Fitzhenry 48

Att 1012

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