Tranmere Rovers and Southport played out a 1-1 draw in an end to end game in the second round of the FA Cup, which will go to a replay later this month at the home of the Sandgrounders.
Jonny Smith opened the scoring with a fine effort following a great move but Bradley Bauress’ 30-yard second half strike earned the visitors a draw meaning that it will happen all over again.
Rovers made two changes to the side that travelled to Grimsby in midweek with Jay Harris and Liam Ridehalgh replacing Luke McCullough and Zoumana Bakayogo respectively. Harvey Gilmour kept his place in starting 11.
Harris looked to make the most of his recall and constantly pressurised the Southport midfield and it almost paid off a quarter of an hour in when nicked the ball from David Morgan, allowing him the chance to find James Norwood with some space in the ‘D’, although he placed his left footed effort over the crossbar.
Rovers linked up well however the majority of the first half was competed within the centre of the field, with Southport keen to deny Rovers any space to create a meaningful attack and so it resulted in a scrappy encounter.
The first chance of note came five minutes in when Rovers winger Dylan Mottley-Henry delivered a good ball to the penalty spot from the right flank, which Connor Jennings directed towards goal but it deflected over for a corner. Mottley-Henry suffered a cruel blow moments later though, being forced off on a stretcher after what looked like a pulled his hamstring. However it turned out to work in Rovers favour as substitute Smith opened the scoring nine minutes after coming on.
It was a fantastic goal from Tranmere too. Ridehalgh, playing his first full 90 minutes of the season, played a superb diagonal ball to Norwood on the right flank and our main man controlled the ball brilliantly first time before cutting it back into the area to Smith, where the Bristol City loanee curled a peach of a left footed effort into the far right corner of Dan Hawfords net.
Southport did create some half chances of their own with visitors strikers Dion Charles and Jack Sampson linking up well. Charles fired a couple of efforts at goal, one from outside the ‘D’ which went just over and then another, this time inside the box, which required Steve McNulty to slide in and divert the number-9’s shot for a corner.
Southport started the second half very positively but Rovers could have doubled their lead on a couple of occasions with Norwood heading just wide minutes into the half before Jennings nearly capitalised on the counter as he broke free on the left before toe poking the ball into the side-netting.
Rovers were left to rue their misses as on 70 minutes Southport found their equaliser. Left winger Bauress found some space 30 yards out in a central position to goal before releasing a bullet of a strike into Davies’ top left corner.
The visitors gained more confidence from their equaliser and were agonisingly close to going in front when Dean Winnard rose well to head on target but a combination of Davies and Ridehalgh on the line saved Rovers.
Former Rover Davern Green had the chance to come back and haunt his old side when he was given the ball by Charles in the area with just Davies to beat but the substitute lacked composure and lashed his shot over.
Smith then tried to take the game into his own hands as it entered five added minutes as he forced a good save from Hawford, the keeper pushing his right footed effort over.
Right at the death a fierce effort hit by Jennings which went just over from almost 30 yards turned out to be the game’s final action. As a result both names will be in the hat for tomorrows FA Cup Third Round Draw before the sides meet again in the coming fortnight.
Davies, Caprice, McNulty (Capt.), Monthe, Ridehalgh, Mottley-Henry (9 Smith), Harris, Gilmour (60 Buxton), Jennings, Mullin (45 Tollitt), Norwood. Subs not used: George, Sutton, Stockton, Bakayogo.
Report by Jake Mathot