West Lancashire League
After a month-long break enforced by the weather, the Riversiders were looking forward to 90 minutes of football ahead of Thursday’s Lancashire Shield semi-final.
Thankfully the home side had worked hard to get the game on and, although very soft in places, the pitch was perfectly playable but any good football would prove to be at a premium.
The game exploded into life after just two minutes when the Southport centre-half was caught in possession by Matty Poole who ran on in goal and was cynically taken out by the home keeper with the referee initially awarding Garstang a penalty.
After consultation with the assistant referee, the referee determined the foul had in fact taken place just outside the box and changed his decision to a free-kick.
The Southport keeper was subsequently shown a red card for stopping a clear goalscoring opportunity and the home side were reduced to 10 men.
With no recognised keeper on the bench, a Southport outfield player went into goal for the game’s remaining 88 minutes.
Soon after, Garstang took the lead when Jonny Hothersall chased a long ball which split the home side’s defence and calmly chipped the onrushing keeper from 20 yards to give the Riversiders an early lead.
Garstang should then have pressed on and capitalised on their goal and man advantage but, to Southport’s credit, they were the better side in a 20-minute spell after the Garstang goal.
Dan Curwen was called into action on a number of occasions as Garstang were guilty of hitting too many long balls and giving the ball away cheaply.
It was no surprise when the home side equalised in the 26th minute with Luke Smith shooting past Curwen.
For the remainder of the half the game was frankly very poor and Garstang never had a shot in anger for the rest of the half.
At half-time, manager Lee Baker brought on Ric Coar and Shaun Sailor to freshen up things.
The early exchanges saw Garstang start to push Southport deeper into their own half, seeing a lot more of the ball but unable to create any clear cut chances.
A number of half-chances came and went and there were occasions when either the final ball or decision making was not to the normal high standard.
That resulted in a lacklustre Garstang side being unable to test the stand-in keeper with the home side settling for a draw and running down the clock at every opportunity.