Salisbury City 1
TEN-man Salisbury City dropped out of the play-off zone after crashing to their fourth straight away defeat at relegation-feared Southport in an action packed adventure.
Another away day debacle resulted in City leaking several goals and losing centre-half Brian Dutton to a red card late on - with a three match suspension set to be imminent.
City, fresh from a session at Liverpool’s training ground and meeting legend Robbie Fowler, faced an uphill struggle against 20th placed Southport within two minutes of play at Merseyrail Community Stadium.
Karl Ledsham kicked things off with a bang for the Sandgrounders with a 25-yard screamer that nestled into the bottom corner.
The momentum was with Southport, not looking like a side fighting for survival, while Salisbury were wobbling in the gale force winds.
A short corner from Josh O’Sullivan’s caught everyone out in the six yard box apart from Scott Brown, who struck a curling effort off the woodwork. O’Sullivan’s next role helped double his side’s tally just before the 30 minute mark.
Dutton cheaply conceded a free kick that the midfielder delivered for Danny Hattersley, at the far post, to guide into the top corner.
Improving in the final ten minutes of the period enabled Salisbury to halve the deficit through Dan Fitchett prodding home Ryan Brett’s middle aimed pass.
And that goal boosted Salisbury after the break, with winger Elliott Frear, getting a call-up for England C’s friendly with Jordan next month, coming into existence. He nearly repeated Salisbury’s opener at home to Woking with a cut-back, but this time there was no one to smash home.
Later, Angus MacDonald pulled the trigger from long distance and Danny Hurst smuggled into the pathway of a cluster of players and the danger was eventually cleared.
In end-to-end action, Vinny Mukendi should have finished things when he was clear through with Will Puddy but the keeper pulled off a phenomenal save to give his side a much-needed lifeline.
Sadly, the save counted for nothing as two minutes from time Dutton was flashed an instant red card for a tackle on Charlie Joyce.
Southport, with a numerical advantage, ended their five-match winless run as Brown converted the marvellous set piece.
“I thought the sending off was harsh. For me, it looked like a yellow card but I won’t be using that as an excuse. The performance wasn’t good enough quite frankly and the players know that,” reflected head coach Mikey Harris.
“We had a conversation at half time and I said we didn’t start well as a group and I was bitterly disappointed.”
“We gave ourselves a mountain to climb and if we want to maintain the position we’re in, we need to be a lot better.”
City, now in sixth but level on points with fifth placed Gateshead, face a defensive dilemma for Tuesday night’s trip to Tamworth (7.45pm) with only three defenders currently available.
“The players owe me, the fans and club a reaction on Tuesday. “We’re in a pretty dire situation in terms of numbers and I’ll have a conversation with the chairman and board to see what we can do on that front.”
Salisbury (4-4-2): Puddy, MacDonald, Dutton, Wilson, Brett, Lewis (S.Sinclair 61), R.Sinclair (Wellard, 84), Kamdjo, Frear (McPhee 74), White, Fitchett.
Sub not used: Bittner.
Scorer: Fitchett (35).
Referee: Anthony Blackhouse.
Sent off: Brian Dutton (88).