West overshadowed by Miles & Co



Slough Town

Slough Town

West (34)
League Attendance: 1117 Ben Miles
Mark West pushed the Rebels up to third place in the Conference with his first half strike on Saturday, but it was Brian McDermott's defence that were the real match winners with a stubborn display at Haig Avenue.

While West and fellow poacher Gary Abbott have been the heroes at Wexham Park this season, it was the defence that stepped up a gear at Southport as the Rebels matched the performance that gave them three points at Kidderminster a fortnight before.

Their efforts to stop the Southport attack were made all the more difficult as first-half injuries to Gary McGinnis and Cliff Hercules forced McDermott to reshuffle his pack twice.

McGinnis, who was facing ex-England striker Peter Davenport, a friend from their time together in the Scottish League, limped off in the 13th minute after pulling his groin. Andy Clement took over at sweeper and within five minutes was in the thick of the action, protecting the empty net superbly after Andy Whittaker had taken the ball past Ben Miles.

The Rebels' defensive heroics were clearly boosted by a near flawless performance by Miles, who was called to make his first save just 72 seconds into the game by dragging the ball from the feet of Rodney McDonald.
That was followed by a point blank save to deny Whittaker in the 12th minute, and a full-stretch dive to deflect David Gamble's 20-yard effort round the post in the 25th. At the other end, Slough's best chances were falling to Simon Stapleton, which was as surprising as it was encouraging.

The former Wycombe midfielder had a shot blocked on the line in the 24th, was inches wide with another first time effort in the 32nd, and watched his header hit the bar in the 40th. When the goal came in the 34th minute, Southport could claim they were still adjusting to a substitution they had been forced to make seconds before, but it was more obviously down to forgetting one of the golden rules that has run throughout the history of the Vauxhall Conference: Don't leave Mark West unmarked in the six-yard box.

West had quietly left the danger zone to return a short comer to Danny Bolt on the left. When Bolt's cross was headed back across goal by Gary Blackford, Hercules was unable to crack the ball in with an attempted overhead kick, but the slight contact he did make was perfect to touch it on to West, who flicked home.
An ankle injury to Hercules brought the second defensive change at half-time, with Clement moving across to centre-half, and Micklewhite moving back to be replaced by the more direct skills of Byron Walton.

The Sandgrounders were more positive, but their best chance came on the hour mark with Brian Butler's dipping 25-yard effort, which produced Miles' most spectacular save of the afternoon, an acrobatic leap to touch the ball over the bar. Despite the presence of West and Abbott, Slough's best outlet remained Blackford, who nearly grabbed his side's second when he took advantage of a quickly taken free kick to break down the right.

But Southport's keeper Billy Stewart is no slouch either, and last year's player of the year at Nationwide League Chester City was down well to parry the ball away.

Southport Lineup

Stewart, Clark, Farley, Horner, Jones, Butler, Eyre, Whittaker, Davenport, Gamble, McDonald. Subs: Vickers (for Whittaker, 70), Carroll, Dove (for Clark, 77)


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