The Shots came back into form in style, with a 5-1 demolition job on Southport at the Rec this afternoon.
The home side blew the Sandgrounders away in a 25 minute blitzkrieg which saw them go four goals up. Man of the Match Brett Williams scored two of these, and he went on to complete his hat trick with a late second half penalty.
The victory however came at a cost for the Shots, with two serious looking leg injuries to loanee Charlie Strutton and defender Chris Barker respectively. Both were stretchered off and this was the main contributing factor to the 10 minutes of added stoppage time in the second period.
Andy Scott at last decided to revert back to the 4-4-2 system which served him so well at the start of the season – with AFC Wimbledon loanee Strutton partnering Williams up front.
The result was startling, as the Shots took the lead inside the first minute. Jordan Roberts, who was a real threat throughout, as an attacking left back, slipped the ball through to Williams in a central position on the edge of the box. The Shots leading goal scorer turned and fired an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner. 1-0.
The Shots almost doubled their lead in the 11th minute.
A poor defensive header fell straight to Strutton, whose first time volley flew narrowly over the bar, with Hurst in the visitor’s goal well beaten.
The second wasn’t long in coming though, in fact it was only a minute later.
Young’s dangerous cross, from the Shots right into the box, was sliced into his own net by the unfortunate James Smith. 2-0.
It could have got worse for Southport in the 14th minute, but luckily for them, Brown’s attempted headed clearance went narrowly wide of his own upright.
Then Strutton’s effort from 22 yards flew just wide of the far post, as the Shots continued to dominate proceedings.
It was so one sided it was almost embarrassing, and Williams came close to increasing the lead further shortly after.
He cut inside the area and fired his effort, from an oblique angle, into the side netting – when a squared pass across goal may have been the better option.
The Shots third came in the 19th minute, and it was a stunner from Adam Mekki. He collected the ball on the edge of the box and subsequently fired a thunderbolt into the roof of the net. 3-0.
Southport’s first attempt at goal came in the 23rd minute. Logan wove his way past two defenders before shooting just over from 18 yards out.
The game was all over as a contest two minutes later. Craig Stanley slipped the ball through to Williams, who cut inside his defender, before unleashing his shot – which took a wicked deflection looping over the stranded keeper.
Despite a valiant attempt from a defender who cleared the ball from under the bar, the linesman had adjudged it had already crossed the line. 4-0.
At the other end Rutherford’s effort was well saved by Henly at his near post.
Then a cross-cum-shot from Milligan floated over Henly and clipped the top of the bar.
Barker’s header, from a Butler free kick was tipped around the post by Hurst, on the stroke of half time.
Half time: Shots 4 Southport 0
Just after the interval Strutton was bearing down on goal, but went down under a double challenge from two defenders. After lengthy treatment the Wimbledon loanee was stretchered off the pitch – his replacement was Matt Paterson.
In the 51st minute an effort from Brodie was well smothered by Henly.
Shots sub Paterson should have netted a fifth a minute later. Mekki did well to find him with a squared pass and his initial effort was kept out by the outstretched leg of Hurst. The rebound fell kindly for the Shots forward however, and after beating a defender, he wildly blazed over from 10 yards out.
On the hour mark Mekki slipped Williams clear, down the Shots left, but the latter’s drilled effort was pushed around the post by Hurst.
Then Flynn headed wide when unmarked from a visitor’s corner.
Chris Barker, who already had to leave the field for a finger injury, then became the second Shots player to be stretchered off with a serious looking leg injury.
Jaydon Gibbs replaced the stricken Shots defender.
The Shots fifth came in the 77th minute. After a slaloming run from Mekki ended with him being brought down in the box, Williams stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot, to complete his hat trick.
Shortly after Williams centred into the box, which the keeper fumbled, but there was no-one in a red shirt on hand to take advantage.
In the 83rd minute Brice Irie-Bi’s 35 yard effort went just wide.
That was to be target practice for the visitors sub as two minutes later he unleashed another long range effort, which this time flew into the net – it was only a consolation but it was a screamer!
Just before the long period of injury time started, Paterson’s effort was directed straight at the keeper.
In the 3rd minute of stoppage time Smith found Hattersley who dragged his effort wide.
Rowlands, who had earlier replaced Mekki, then saw his powerful drive pushed away.
The final attempt of an entertaining afternoon came from Oyeleke, whose powerful strike was unfortunately drilled straight at the keeper.
An excellent performance only spoiled by the double injury blow, and to a certain extent, the mindless time wasting in injury time which, I’m glad to say was clearly not appreciated by Andy Scott.
TS RATINGS: Henly 6, Butler 7, Roberts 7.5, Stanley 7, Barker 7 (Gibbs), Webster 7, Mekki 7.5 (Rowlands), Oyeleke 7.5, Williams 8.5, Strutton 7(Paterson 6.5), Young 6