Southport 1-4 Wrexham FC


Richard Williams

WREXHAM came from behind to beat Southport at Haig Avenue last night after scoring four goals in the second half.

Looking to avoid back-to-back league defeats for the first time under player-boss Andy Morrell – Wrexham lost their last Conference fixture against Lincoln City on October 20 – the Reds were good value for their victory after producing a vastly improved performance after the break.

The scoreline might have flattered Wrexham in the end after Southport gave them a run for their money but all that mattered was the Reds got back to winning ways and remain on the tails of leaders Newport County.

The best of the scoring chances fell to Wrexham in the first half, but it was Southport, who had asked plenty of questions of the Reds’ defence when they poured forward, who took a 1-0 lead eight minutes before the interval.

It was a poor goal to concede and can only be blamed on a lack of communication in Wrexham’s back line, but there needed to be an overall improvement from the Reds after the break.

Wrexham did make an encouraging start to the second half and they were rewarded with an equaliser after 55 minutes from a well executed Jay Harris shot immediately after Southport midfielder Godfrey Poku had been sent off.

The game was evenly poised but Wrexham were proving to be more of a threat and gradually ground their opponents down, scoring twice in the space of two minutes to kill off Southport thanks to an own goal and strike from substitute Rob Ogleby.

It was one way traffic and there was still time for Chris Westwood to make it 4-1 - making it three goals in eight minutes - to complete a resounding victory.

Not only did Wrexham get back to winning ways in the league but they produced a positive response after losing 4-2 against Alfreton Town in Saturday’s FA Cup first round tie.

Trying to win promotion was always going to be the priority so Wrexham will be looking to extend the winning run when they host Hereford United on Saturday.

The starting line-up showed three changes from the side that was beaten by Alfreton.

An appeal made on behalf of goalkeeper Joslain Mayebi, sent-off in the FA Cup defeat for violent conduct, was unsuccessful earlier in the afternoon so the Cameroonian was starting a three-match suspension.

Andy Coughlin came in between the posts for Mayebi while Joe Clarke was preferred in midfield to Johnny Hunt who dropped to the substitutes bench for the first time having started every game this season.

The other change saw striker Nick Rushton handed a first senior start in place of Adrian Cieslewicz, also named among the substitutes, but there was no place in the squad for defender Danny Alfei who still hasn’t featured for various reasons since joining Wrexham on loan from Swansea City for a second spell.

Coughlin, making his third appearance for the Reds, didn’t have long to wait before he was called into action, getting down low to make a smart save from Steven Tames’ deflected effort in the second minute.

Southport had made a bright start but when Wrexham enjoyed their first telling move of the match, Stephen Wright was unable to pick out a team-mate with his cross.

Coughlin had to be alert to keep out Karl Ledsham’s teasing cross but Wrexham had the best opportunity on 16 minutes, Harris squared to Stephen Wright who threaded a pass through for Clarke but the midfielder fired wide from inside the area.

Although Southport were keeping the Wrexham defence on their toes, the home side lacked scoring chances and again it was the Reds who went close, Morrell dummied the ball for Clarke who could only shoot straight at keeper Tony McMillan from a decent position.

Rushton also saw an effort blocked by McMillan after Dean Keates’ free-kick wasn’t cleared and Wrexham contined to play some nice football in their build-up play.

However, Southport made the breakthrough in the 37th minute.

Former Wrexham winger Shaun Whalley’s cross from the right flank should have been dealt with by Coughlin or a defender but the ball was allowed to reach Tames who converted at the back post.

Morrell was denied by McMillan in added time and Stephen Wright was also thwarted following a late spell of Wrexham pressure.

The Reds were soon back on the attack at the start of the second half with Rushton’s low effort cut out by McMillan and the youngster also just failed to get on the end of Danny Wright’s centre following the next move.

Southport were being kept on the back-foot and the Sandgrounders were reduced to 10-men on 54 minutes when Poku was shown a second yellow card following a late challenge on Neil Ashton.

And Wrexham equalised from the resulting free-kick less than 60 seconds later as Keates laid the ball off for Harris whose low 25-yard drive took a deflection and beat McMillan.

Southport responded with Whalley’s deflected drive which never threatened the target and the Sandgrounders were not letting giving Wrexham an easy ride despite being a man down as they got plenty of bodies behind the ball.

Wrexham began to step up a gear and substitute Cieslewicz’s low cross was nearly turned into his own net by Ledsham but Wrexham did take the lead after 78 minutes.

Keates put the ball into the dangerzone and Simon Grand managed to put the ball into the back of the net.

Now well in control, Wrexham made it 3-1 just two minutes later, Ashton centred to the back post and Ogleby headed past McMillan.

Chris Westood also got on the act by grabbing a fourth goal on 86 minutes after getting on the end of Cieslewicz’s corner at the far post.

Ogleby was denied by McMillan with time running out but Wrexham had already done enough.

SOUTHPORT (4-2-2): McMillan 7; Smith 7 (Lynch 74), Grand 7, Parry 7, Willis 6; Whalley 7, Poku 6, Moogan 7, Ledsham 6; Tames 7 (Benjamin 56), Stephenson 6 (Joyce 89). Subs not used: Hibbert, Chalmers.

WREXHAM (4-3-3): Coughlin 7; Stephen Wright 7, Devine 7, Westwood 8, Ashton 7; Clarke 7, Harris 7 (Colbeck 88), Keates 7; Rushton 7 (Cieslewicz 76), Morrell 7 (Ogleby 65), Danny Wright 7. Subs not used: Riley, Hunt.

Referee: Seb Stockbridge, Tyne and Wear.

Attendance: 1,324 (515 from Wrexham).

Match Rating (1-5): ***

Moan of the Match: Wrexham failed to deal with a cross which led to Southport taking the lead.

Magic Moment: Midfielder Jay Harris equalised with a 25-yard drive that took a slight deflection.

Man of the Match: Centre-back Chris Westwood dealt with everything asked of him and also scored a goal.

See full story in the Leader

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