Match Report -
Evenly matched
By Iain Benson
A floodlight failure at the start of the second half looked like it might result in another abandoned match, but the electricians worked wonders, and after a twenty minute hiatus, the game got back under way.

Southport started the game brightly, with both Duffy and Gray testing Gamble early on with warm up shots for the Celtic keeper, but Celtic got into the game, and Carlos Roca burst through the Southport defence, only to blaze over the bar. Hall was making a nuisance of himself and it was no surprise when Lee stepped through Hall?s legs to try and reach the ball, and succeeded in sending Hall sprawling. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Andy Smart stepped up to blast the ball so hard the net lost some of the net-catches ? Drench had no chance.

Celtic continued to be in the ascendancy and were playing some nice football, with one move eventually putting Barlow through on goal, his shot was accurate and powerful, but Drench made the save. Ellington used some excellent footwork to create half a yard, but curled his shot just beyond the post. However, Southport have not been in the top five all season for no reason, and they showed tenacity to stay in touch with Celtic. A sliding tackle by Woolliscroft on the edge of the box looked to have taken the ball and be outside the box, but a penalty was awarded, and Duffy sent Gamble the wrong way to equalise from the spot. Gray could have added to it moments later with a quick break from the visitors, but Gamble made amends with a stunning save, plucking the header from the air.

Roca showed some class as he knocked the ball past Barratt and twist his way into the box, before finishing the move with a sublime curling finish that would have graced a Premiership side, and left the visiting fans applauding. The visitors tried to equalise straight away, and Robinson got two chances, but Gamble was more than equal to them both, with a flying save, and a close range catch from a flicked on free kick. The was a blow for Southport just before half time when goal-scorer Duffy had to be stretchered from the pitch after pulling a back muscle stretching for a pass.

Celtic started the second half brightly, Roca getting a good chance, but scooting the ball narrowly wide, before the lights went out. When the game did restart, the lack of lights seemed to have energized Southport and they came at Celtic with all guns blazing. Houghton, the man brought on for the previous goal-scorer, got a foot on a lifted pass from Gray, and managed to slot it between Sykes?s leg, Gamble?s hand and the post.

It was game on then, and both sides had spells of possession, Barlow putting a well controlled pass wide of the mark, and Burke heading a free kick towards goal, but not beating Drench. Southport got a few good chances, with the best chance of the game coming with only a minute left, a looping lob into the box was hit first time by Robinson, but from three yards he sent the ball sailing high over the bar. With seconds left, Celtic could have snatched the win, as Winn was put through by Dean and he lifted a shot over the defence aiming for the top corner. Drench saw it late, but was well positioned to make the catch.

A draw was a fair result for what was (eventually) an entertaining game, with two teams playing some good football.

1Drench, Steven  
2Lever, Chris  
3Barratt, Paul  
4Hocking, Matt  > 10
5Lee, Kevin  
6Holland, ChrisYellow Card 
7Duffy, Mark  > 45
8Sorvel, Neil  > 78
9Robinson, NeilYellow Card 
10Gray, Tony  
11Prince, Neil  
12Powell, Mike  < 78
14Houghton, Mark  < 45
15Holmes, Danny  < 10
16Blakeman, Liam  
17Smith, Terry  
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