These have been topsy-turvy times in the National League North. First, with COVID-19 damaging the league and causing a cancellation of the 2019/20 season. Then came a brief two-week cancellation early in 2021, due to funding and COVID-19 concerns.
One team who have had a bumpy ride this season has been Southport FC. The Sandgrounders are currently hovering around the bottom of the table, in 17th place. The season has been a mix of highlights and lowlights.
This article looks at Southport’s season and some of its players’ performances. The future may look a little uncertain just now and some may feel their guess is as good as anyone else’s as to how it will end. If you do fancy a wager, however, you can turn to OLBG for football tips.
Initially, events in the run-up to 2020/21 bode well for the season. The team announced they’d signed attacking midfielder Dylan Vassallo and defender Jack Bainbridge to their first team. Vassallo had shown outstanding form in the pre-season and Bainbridge had quickly caught the eye of the club in a pre-season game.
Southport also announced the good news they’d be starting the season enjoying the shirt sponsorship of chartered accountants and business advisors Wilson Henry. The firm, who have been operating for 50 years across Merseyside and Cheshire, were delighted to be putting their name on the Southport FC gold shirts.
Beating Spennymoor Town on penalties in the FA Trophy
Perhaps one of the biggest moments of 2020/21 for the club has been beating County Durham club Spennymoor Town FC in the third round of the FA Trophy. Both teams were up the game, which featured some dramatic moments and some wonderful play, including a fantastic direct free kick from Spennymoor’s Glen Taylor that went into the bottom right corner.
Neither team refused to surrender and were deadlocked at 2-2 by the end of normal time. The game went into penalties and it was the Sandgrounders who held their nerve. They came out on top 4-5 after Ben McKenna sent a penalty strike over the bar.
Heavy league loss to Guiseley
Just now, Southport are not far off being at the very bottom of the table and are sitting a lot less comfortably than their finishing spot last season of 12th in the table.
Nothing exemplifies this difficult season than their 4-2 dismantlement by Guiseley in December 2020, which was a truly demoralising defeat, but the team are coming back from it. If there was anything good to take from the game, it’s that Marcus Carver was able to get on the scoresheet — despite waiting until stoppage time to do — and maintain his prolific form. The Blackburn-born striker, who started off is career with Accrington Stanley, signed from Chorley in the summer.
Southport and the FA Cup
Playing in the FA Cup is every team’s dream and the Sandgrounders had a good go at it. The team made it as far as the third-round qualifier, beating Morpeth Town 2-1 on the way before losing out 4-2 in a penalty shootout to South Shields. If it weren’t for an own goal, the 2020/21 FA Cup story could have been very different for the club.
Southport and the FA Trophy
The club have gone much further in the FA Trophy, however, and made it all the way to the sixth round. On the way, they beat Marine, Spennymoor Town and Halifax Town. League leaders Torquay United proved too much and dumped them out of the competition 2-0 on the Sandgrounders’ own turf.
Players of note
Twenty-twenty has been a difficult year for Southport, despite some big signings, who have all delivered. The results haven’t been coming as much as the club would have liked, but the players have performed consistently, which is slightly confusing. Below are a couple of players of note.
The club announced in November 2020 that Jordan Archer had signed for them until May 2022. While on loan in the past to the club, Archer had found the back of the net nine times during his stint: enough to make the club want him back to give manager Liam Watson more attacking options. Archer’s goals have all come in league games this season, helping to keep their head just above the relegation zone.
Boasting a choice of Archer, Carver or Newell up front, and able to combine them, Southport FC field a ferocious attack and each striker has been putting away the goals. The three have spread the goals almost evenly, but of the three, Newell has been the top scorer, having scored five during the season.
Newell completed the 2019/20 seasons with six goals under his belt from eight starts and had scored on his FA Cup debut for the club with his first touch of the ball. He’d signed in 2019 and is picking up where he left for Stockport by rewarding them with further good form. Money well invested.
No one knows quite what the future holds for Southport FC. The club is in a slightly precarious situation in the National League North just now, but fans should remember the club has signed quality players who could really turn things around. The interruptions to the season could be disrupting their rhythm, but fans should keep believing in this club. The season is far from over.