An 87th-minute winner secured Southport’s place in the Liverpool Senior Cup semi-finals last night (13 February 2019) as the Sandgrounders beat Tranmere Rovers at the third time of asking this season.
Southport got off to a flying start with left midfielder Morgan Homson-Smith breaking free in the first minute, before sliding the ball to Jordan Archer. Archer was charged down and as the volley fell to Dion Charles, he could not keep it on target, his shot sailing high and wide.
The home side would not have to wait long for their next effort as just two minutes later Homson-Smith once again got free, before feeding a perfectly weighted through-ball to Charles; however the angle was too tight for the striker, who could only fire into the side netting.
Charles complete a hat-trick of near chances five minutes later after an initial shot was parried right back to his feet, but Charles was left with his head in his hands as Tranmere goalkeeper Luke Pilling made a superb point-blank save to keep the sides level.
The resultant corner from that shot fell directly onto the head of Southport defender Liam Edwards, whose glancing header went just wide of the right-hand post in what was Southport’s closest chance of the first half.
Despite Southport’s dominant start in the first ten minutes, Tranmere found their footing not long after and it was the visitors who came closest in the first period, as Bailey Thompson curled a shot from 25 yards out with his right foot. Southport goalkeeper Joshua Tibbetts was well beaten but Rovers fans could only watch in anguish as the ball rattled off the crossbar before being cleared.
Southport struck back immediately as Reagan Ogle got free on what had been a shaky right-hand side of the Tranmere defence, but his shot was right down the throat of Pilling, who held the ball well, as the sides headed into break 0-0.
After the break neither set of fans had much to cheer for as both sides played more conservatively.
The first big chance fell to the hosts in the 72nd minute as Carl Spellman missed a simple clearance for Tranmere in the box, allowing Southport substitute David Morgan in on goal. However, a last-ditch challenge from James Devine saved the blushes of Spellman.
The crucial moment came just three minutes before the end. Homson-Smith, who had caused Rovers a problem all evening, swung in a free kick from the right-hand side which was met by the head of Southport substitute Jason Gilchrist, who had only been on the pitch for four minutes, and flew beyond Pilling in the Tranmere net to send the Sandgrounders fans home with a smile.
Southport will go on to play either Rylands, AFC Liverpool or the winner of next week’s Widnes vs. Everton clash in the semi-finals of the competition.