‘I THOUGHT it was a moral victory to us.’
Not a reporter’s words, but the words of Skelmersdale United manager Tommy Lawson after his side had gone into the lead three times against a strong Sandgrounders team from two divisions above them, before only succumbing to an equaliser in the 93rd minute and sudden death in the ensuing penalty shoot-out.
So Tommy was rightly proud of his players’ effort, because for long periods of the game, it was impossible to say, who were the Conference Premier Division club out of the two teams.
After an even opening, it was Skelmersdale who took the lead in the 28th minute.
Former Southport player Shaun Holden overlapped down the left before sending a cross deep into the Southport penalty area, Sean Miller ran in and with a ferocious shot got his name on the scoresheet for the first time in a Skelmersdale shirt.
Southport levelled for the first of three times in the 41st minute. Steve Tames sent the ball across the face of the Skelmersdale goal for Danny Hattersley to tap-in at the far post.
Southport had a great chance two minutes into the second-half but Kellan Daly chipped wide when really he should have done better. However, in the 50th minute Skelmersdale’s Dean Astbury showed him just how to finish with a sweeping effort across Southport goalkeeper Danny Hurst into the far corner.
Skelmersdale were in control for a period after retaking the lead and it took a change from Southport manager John Coleman to alter things.
In the 62nd minute he introduced substitute John O’Sullivan and within a minute he put a vicious looping volley into the Skelmersdale net with his first touch of the game to make it 2-2.
After Zac Hibbert made a save from a Karl Ledsham prod at goal, Skelmersdale took the lead for a third time. Lewis Field made one of his trademark runs down the right, his cross wasn’t cleared properly and Tom Ince responded by sending the ball high into the Southport net.
In truth it now looked as if Skelmersdale had the game fairly secured, but there was to be another twist.
Three minutes after the 90 mark, Paul Rutherford was allowed too much room on the and his cross found Yammy Osawe in the Skelmersdale penalty area, from where he sent the game to a penalty shoot-out.
The Skelmersdale penalty scorers were; Jack Laird, Tom Hardwick, Tom Ince and Rob McIntosh. Southport got the winning penalty via Rutherford and go into the Liverpool Senior Cup semi-final.
After the game Tommy Lawson added: “I thought we more than matched them. As for the penalty shoot-out, I won’t criticise anybody.”
l SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Hibbert, Wylie (Field, 42), Holden, Hardwick ©, McIntosh, Dunn, Strickland (Laird, 63), Burton, Astbury, Miller, Morning (Ince, 67) Subs (not used) Greene, O’Reilly
l SOUTHPORT: Hurst, Challoner, George, Rutherford, Dillon (Brown, 73), Osawe, Hattersley (O’Sullivan, 62), Tames (Ledsham, 62), Daly, Joyce, Flynn Subs (not used) Wimmer, Brodie
l Referee: Aaron Jackson
l Attendance: 130