No way forward for deadly West



Mitchell (6, 90)
Slough Town

Slough Town

League Attendance: 677 Garry Smart
Brian McDermott looks set to persevere with the unusual switch which saw top scorer Mark West running central midfield on Saturday.

A hamstring injury that kept Andy Clement out of the side for the trip north, prompted the move, in which 27-goal West partnered Neil Catlin, with Ross Pickett preferred to Andy Gray and Garfield Blackman on the right wing.

"We felt West could give us a bit of quality and he did just that," explained the Rebels boss. "I felt he was the best player out there. We battled away hard and we could have got something from the game."

West's switch was a calculated gamble that maybe surprised his team-mates rather more than the opposition, who had assigned a defender to man-mark the Rebel forward.

Ansil Bushay and Cliff Hercules never hit it off together upfront for the first time, and the long trip was ultimately unrewarding as West harried around busily between defence and attack.

With a more conventional midfield foursome, Slough might have got something, as the formation was forward-looking in its philosophy but too clumsy in reality.

Southport - with a Saturday game behind them but still fired up after a managerial tongue-lashing - found the net in the opening six minutes and then again in the final seconds.

They started early, Cocran clearing West's shot off the line following Garry Smart's cross before Mark Fiore's corner was seized on by striker Mitchell in his own box. Lodge broke free, former Man United man Peter Davenport shrugged off Smart's challenge and then pulled back for Mitchell to complete his own move with a tap-in at the opposite end.

There was the by-now- expected comedy error from Ansil Bushay, this time toe-poking wide with only 'keeper Crossdale to beat after breaking from the halfway line, but the lack of possession in midfield meant many moves were never fully realised.

More panic arrived when Clark got sight of goal but was well-stopped by Steve Bateman's head, and Cocran swung a couple of efforts over the bar - McDermott seemed none too pleased in the dugout.

His half-time pep talk led to better use of the right wing, and several good chances to equalise followed. Smart advanced up the byline to deliver a deep cross headed just wide by West, while Bateman flicked on a corner for Hercules to smack onto the underside of the bar. It fell down nicely for Pickett, but he leant back and scooped it high.

Ben Miles kept the excellent MeDonald's shot out on 76 minutes, but Southport showed on too many occasions why their season is already over. The tepid Bushay tried his best for a wondergoal when he cut inside Clark and onto the edge of the area, but the finish was poor and West's miss at the far post - smashing across the face of goal seemed far nobler.

Had Pickett's pony-tail-sporting head connected with West's cross-cum-shot it might have been different, but the hosts had a little left in reserve and Davenport nutmegged Brian Lee to allow McDonald to square and give Mitchell another easy finish.

Clement looks set to miss another week at the very least - with few options in the engine room due in part to Mark Pye's continued injury, West may have to soldier on in unfamiliar territory.

Southport Lineup


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