PREVIEW: Luton Town v Southport

Southport head to Kenilworth Road with an away record nothing short of horrific so far this term, writes Mike Simmonds.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 26th November 2013, 10:36 am
Scott Rendell scores from the spot against Southport last season
Scott Rendell scores from the spot against Southport last season

Alan Wright’s team had started well after defeating Luton 1-0 at home, and then following that up with a 2-1 triumph at Hyde.

But on their travels, that was pretty much as good as it got, as they have since lost eight from the next nine Skrill Premier games, picking up a solitary point from the 27 on offer with a 2-2 draw at Macclesfield.

During the sequence, they went four successive matches without scoring and in total have netted just five times away from Haig Avenue, while shipping 19 goals.

Port have also conceded 10 in their last two away matches, one which was a 5-2 defeat at League One high-fliers Leyton Orient in the FA Cup, before Saturday’s capitulation at Aldershot.

With 25 minutes on the clock, the Sandgrounders were 4-0 down, eventually going on to lose 5-1.

After that defeat, boss Wright spoke to local media and admitted he had given his side a tongue-lashing during the interval.

He said: “I got them in at half-time and told them my thoughts, which I can’t repeat, and we did get some sort of reaction in the second half which was the only positive to come out of the game.

“The most frustrating thing was, no disrespect to Aldershot but, they’d won one in 11 and had lost the two previous games 4-0.

“So we told the players they would be looking for a reaction, and they gave us that reaction, but, for some reason, we never stepped up to the plate and managed it.”

Wright has been looking to turn things around after taking over at the club in the summer and signed three players on loan until January last week.

The biggest capture was a familiar face to Hatters fans, with striker Richard Brodie, 26, who has won the Conference title with both Crawley and Fleetwood, joining from Gateshead.

Rochdale attacking midfielder Joel Logan, 18, and striker Godwin Abadaki, 20, have also arrived as on his new acquisitions, Wright said: “Richard is exactly what we require.

“He is an established centre forward with tremendous experience in the Conference.

“He is a winner who wants games and he will be a major addition to the squad

“I have been monitoring both Godwin and Joel. Both have real talent and are looking to develop their experience with first-team, competitive action.”

It’s been a busy few months for Wright in the transfer market as he also made an eye-catching piece of business to bring in former Wigan Athletic striker Nathan Ellington.

The 32-year-old has scored over 100 goals in spells at the likes of Watford, West Brom and Bristol Rovers during a career that has seen him move for transfers totalling over £7million.

Ellington spent the back end of the season at Crewe Alexandra, making just eight league appearances, but failing to score for the Railwaymen and is yet to find the net for his new club.

As late as yesterday, Wright was continuing to bolster his squad, bringing in former Town midfielder Jamie Hand on a short-term loan deal from Stockport County.

The Port boss also pounced to sign defender Matt Brown on loan from Chesterfield recently.

Brown, 23, joined the Spireites from non-league outfit Marine in July but has yet to appear for the League Two team.

Team news: Southport have a number of injury worries ahead of tonight’s clash at Kenilworth Road.

Scott Brown sits out due to a one match suspension after picking up five bookings, while Luke George (ankle), Matt Challoner (ankle) and Nathan Ellington (calf) are all absentees.

Karl Ledsham may be considered following a stomach ulcer problem that requires further medical attention.

Hatters will be without Solomon Taiwo as he needs a hernia operation, while Jon Shaw still isn’t fit and Danny Fitzsimons remains out.

Top Skrill Premier scorer - Hatters: Andre Gray (9). Sandgrounders: Jamie Milligan, Danny Hattersley, Osayamen Osawe (3).

Man in the middle: Anthony Backhouse - official has taken just four Conference games this season, making 11 bookings without showing a red card.

Officiated 28 games last term, brandishing 83 yellows and three reds, one of those, to Town’s defender Lathaniel Rowe-Turner during the 1-0 defeat at Barrow.

Also reffed Luton’s 3-0 loss at Alfreton, while had the whistle for three Sandgrounders’ home games, defeats to Tamworth (3-0) and Forest Green (2-1), plus a 3-2 triumph over Macclesfield.

In charge: Alan Wright - former left back, who played over 750 league and cup games for eight clubs, including an eight-year spell for Aston Villa. He also played for Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Middlesbrough and Sheffield United plus loan spells at Derby County, Leeds United, Cardiff City, Doncaster Rovers and Nottingham Forest

Is famous for being the shortest player in Premier League history standing at only five foot four and was signed by Kenny Dalglish while at Blackburn for £500,000.

It was at Villa he really made his name though, after joining in 1995 for £1,000,000, making over 250 appearances and is still currently third on the club’s European appearances list, having played 26 times between September 1996 and July 2002.

Eventually ended his career in 2010/11 after being released by Fleetwood Town and was named coach at Blackpool Centre of Excellence, before becoming assistant boss during Steve Thompson’s spell as caretaker manager in 2013.

Combined his work at Bloomfield Road by being assistant manager to Paul Simpson at non-league Northwich Victoria in February 2012, until he was appointed Southport boss on May 15.

View from the opposition: Boss Alan Wright: “I made it clear at half time on Saturday that lacklustre start is totally unacceptable. No player can afford to repeat that.

“I thought we responded well in the second half playing purely for pride as we had let the result go in the first 12 minutes. We could not have a better stage than Luton to respond. “

One to watch: Jamie MIlligan. Vastly experienced midfielder who began his career at Everton in 1997, making four first team appearances, replacing Marco Materazzi during a 1-0 defeat at Arsenal for his debut.

Had spells at Blackpool, Macclesfield, Leigh Genesis, Fleetwood Town and Hyde least season and turned down offers to stay in the league to move to Southport in the summer.

Has played in all of Port’s 20 league games so far, scoring three times, including the winner over Luton on the opening day.

Friendly faces: Southport midfielder Jamie Hand played 15 times for Luton, scoring twice during the 2011-12 season after joining on loan from Hayes & Yeading.

Since leaving Town, he went back to Hayes, before a disappointing spell at Mansfield, where he was loaned to Eastleigh, Hayes & Yeading and Margate before moving to Stockport in the summer and arrived at Haig Avenue yesterday.

Hatters snapped up Southport pair Shaun Whalley and Andrew Parry from the Sandgrounders after their contracts expired at Haig Avenue in the summer.

Whalley made over 100 appearances in his two and a bit years at the club, while Parry played more then 50 times.

We’ve got form: Town have a superb record against Southport at Kenilworth Road as they have never lost to their opponents on home soil, with five wins and two draws from seven games.

Hatters have only conceded twice in those matches too, scoring 17 times.

Their biggest win came in the 2010-11 season as they enjoyed a 6-0 triumph in the Blue Square Bet Premier.

Amari Morgan-Smith (22) opened the scoring, with Robbie Willmott adding a second before half time.

Freddie Murray was then credited with the third on 84 minutes before an amazing final few minutes saw Jason Walker, Claude Gnakpa and Zdenek Kroca all on target.

Last time out: Hatters enjoyed a 3-1 victory over Southport at Kenilworth Road last season.

Stuart Fleetwood gave Town an early lead, curling in from the edge of the area after four minutes, before Town’s summer signing Andy Parry levelled on the stroke of half time.

A quickfire brace from Scott Rendell at the start of the second period, one from the penalty spot, saw Hatters run out winners against a Sandgrounders team also containing Shaun Whalley.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Jake Howells, Simon Ainge, Connor Essam, Ronnie Henry, Alex Lawless, JJ O’Donnell, Scott Rendell (Jake Robinson 85), Stuart Fleetwood (Jon Shaw 79), Yaser Kasim (Lathaniel Rowe-Turner 72), Andre Gray.

Subs not used: Dean Brill, Dan Walker.

Attendance: 5,696.

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