Aldershot Town went to Southport looking for a draw and were fortunate to lose by a single goal as they were left to continue their search to wipe out the -10 deficit.
A confident first five minutes from both sides saw early warning shots fired by Matt Patterson and Joe Oastler for the visitors and Danny Hattersley and Osayamen Osawe for the home side, but it was the Lancashire based men who gradually began to look the better side – but thankfully, lacked that killer final touch.
With blustery conditions prevalent on an otherwise fine summers day, the home side let the Shots off the hook on 26 minutes when a Hattersley found an in-swinging corner with his head but much to everyone’s surprise, the ball smacked off the crossbar from two feet out, leaving the player tangled up in the net.
Despite that let-off, Southport continued to attack and just sixty seconds later the ball finally found its way in to the back of the Aldershot net after the lively Osawe slotted the ball beyond a helpless Glen Morris.
The goal appeared to settle the home side as they began to look more comfortable on the ball and Morris was called in to action again with 36 minutes on the clock when Osawe forced him into a fantastic near-post save which he could only parry away.
As halftime approached, The Shots looked as if they were beginning to fade until Brett Williams let fly with a fantastic effort on 43 minutes, which Danny Hurst could only push around the post but the resulting corner continued the dismal run of poor set pieces from Aldershot – something that they really need to work on in training.
HALF TIME: Southport 1 Aldershot Town 0
Aldershot began the second half with a greater tempo than they had displayed in the first forty-five minutes, but in all fairness, they hadn’t played bad at all, it was just Southport had been better and they continued that theme when they won a couple of corners soon after the re-start but the work rate from their visitors was evident to see.
On 58 minutes Jack Maloney entered the field for Matt Patterson who was perhaps still nursing his groin injury and seconds after the swap, The Shots were let off the hook for a second time when Paul Rutherford attempted a very quick lob over Morris but fortunately the ball just ended up looping over the crossbar, hitting the top of the net.
Seconds later, Rutherford whipped in the ball with the help of the wind and Morris reacted well to send the ball out for another corner and the home side had visibly weathered the early Aldershot pressure and finally got themselves back into the game.
It was that man Rutherford again on 64 minutes who was by no looking on fire but he was denied a shot on target by Adam Webster who managed to clear the ball at the crucial second. Two minutes later Osawe saw his effort blocked by Jake Goodman and the visitors were really hanging on by their fingernails.
A double Aldershot substitute followed with 71 minutes gone as he lively Manny Oyeleke was replaced by Aaron Wickham and Mark Molesley made way for Cameron Brown but the hosts continued to hold the upper hand in the ensuing minutes.
Five minutes later, despite looking the better team, Southport changed their game plan from the entertaining performance they had been displaying, and switched to the running the clock down and seeing the game out tactic when Hattersley made way for Steve Tames.
Despite this change in effort, Aldershot didn’t appear to have the punch to break them down and by the time goal scorer Osawe was substituted for Scott Brown on 81 minutes, it was the home side who perhaps still looked the more likely to score a goal.
On 84 minutes, Aaron Chalmers made way for Brice Irie-Bi but the game continued to peter out in the final minutes and there was a certain inevitability to it all as is so often the case in recent seasons in what was a disappointing end to what had been, a fairly exciting game of football.
FULL TIME: Southport 1 Aldershot Town 0
Southport: Hurst, Challoner, Flynn, George, Fitzpatrick, Milligan, Chalmers (84 minutes for Brice Irie-Bi), Ledsham, Osawe (81 minutes for Scott Brown), Hattersley (71 minutes for Steve Tames) and Rutherford.
Subs: Stevenson, Smith, S Brown (81 min), Tames (76 min) and Irie-Bi (84 min).
Aldershot Town: Morris, Oastler, Stanley, Goodman, Webster, Rowlands, B Williams, Paterson (58 minutes for Maloney), Oyeleke (71 minutes for Aaron Wickham), Barker and Molesley (71 minutes for Aaron Brown).
Subs: Wickham (71 min), Roberts, Maloney (58 min), A Brown (71 min), L Williams.
Attendance: 1012 (including 90 from Aldershot).
Referee: Ben Toner.