Beard trims the Southport sails
PUBLISHED: 09:51 15 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010
Stevenage Boro 3 Southport 1 MARCUS CRAWLEY reports A routine victory against the league s bottom side as Boro continued their march up the table and into the play-offs? Well no, this was nothing of the sort as Boro only earned the three points with goals
Stevenage Boro 3 Southport 1
MARCUS CRAWLEY reports
A routine victory against the league's bottom side as Boro continued their march up the table and into the play-offs?
Well no, this was nothing of the sort as Boro only earned the three points with goals in added time after playing for nearly half an hour with 10 men.
And it was ironic that it was Saturday's hero and matchwinner Santos Gaia who was the man that was shown a straight red card for a two-footed lunge.
This was quite an extraordinary night of Conference football sandwiched between the two Trophy semi-final ties.
Boro boss Mark Stimson shuffled his pack once more with Mitchell Cole getting a starting berth and Damian Batt in place of Barry Fuller at right-back.
The visitors included Boro old boys Dino Maamria and Matt Hocking in their team and they always pushed in search of all three points as well.
They made the early running before Boro's top scorer Steve Morison launched a one-man crusade to break the deadlock.
He was amazingly denied by the woodwork three times in a nine-minute spell, the first when he hooked a shot over his shoulder and the ball bounced down off the bar and on the line.
Jon Nurse somehow scooped the rebound into keeper Terry Smith's arms.
Morison was also unlucky when Cole played him in and Smith pushed his drive onto the bar and over. The resulting corner was also cleared off the line.
And then the striker hit the post with a downward header from a John Nutter cross.
A minute later, Morison must have wondered quite what he had done when his lob over a helpless Smith landed on top of the net instead of dropping under the bar.
This was the cue for Southport to take a shock lead in the 25th minute and this even had an element of bad luck about it for Boro.
The ball came back off the post with Alan Julian unable to gather and it fell conveniently for Paul Tait to tap the ball home.
Watched by an unsurprisingly subdued crowd, Boro's only attempts at salvaging something before the break saw Morison and Nurse waste promising positions.
Southport's livewire Mark Duffy beat two men but not Julian with his shot on the restart before Boro pulled level on 49 minutes.
Morison was denied again from a Cole cross but Nurse did well to eventually slot the ball home.
Duffy's clever chip was pushed over by Julian before the real controversial moment of the evening.
Cole had been flattened seconds earlier in a strong aerial challenge with play waved on. Gaia then slid in two-footed on Duffy and referee Beck had no hesitation in rightly brandishing a red card.
Boro were down to 10 men but Adam Dugdale gave the referee the ideal opportunity to even it up inside two minutes.
The defender tackled Cole in an identical manner to Gaia's one but was merely cautioned. Where was the consistency?
Luke Oliver soon came on at the back with Daryl McMahon sacrificed. Oliver had an immediate involvement as his header was cleared off the line and Mark Hughes' follow-up somehow failed to squeeze in.
Three cautions in five minutes showed Southport's desire and their will-to-win was emphasised by sub Mark Boyd twice whistling long range efforts over Julian's goal.
Boro looked to be resigned to a point but Stimson's men are made of sterner stuff.
Mark Beard typifies this and just as the board went up for five minutes of added time, the midfield scrapper unleashed a stunning effort into the top corner from outside the area which left Smith helpless.
And there was still time for Morison to finally net his 30th goal of the season when his shot on the turn deflected off Mark Birch to completely wrongfoot Smith.
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