West Lancashire League
With maybe one eye on this week’s Lancashire Amateur Shield semi-final, manager Lee Baker made a number of changes which saw Jack Swindlehurst, Tom Graham and Jonny Hothersall on the bench.
On a very bumpy, compact pitch, playing good football was always going to be a struggle and this proved to be the case in a very poor first half.
Southport Hesketh were the better team by far as Garstang looked very lethargic, but despite Southport’s greater share of possession, Dan Curwen was untroubled for virtually the whole half.
That was until late on when he miskicked a clearance and the ball fell kindly to Brooks who shot home into an empty net to give the home side the lead.
Birch then made a superb last-ditch tackle to stop the Southport forward from tapping in from five yards.
Following that incident both teams cancelled each other out and the sparse crowd was pleased to hear the half-time whistle.
After the restart Garstang looked a little sharper and could have equalised when Alan Coar hit a low cross to brother Rick who controlled the ball well and hit a powerful shot that was well saved by Wilkinson in the Southport goal.
Hay headed over at full stretch from a Frith corner as Garstang started to push for an equaliser.
Southport were still seeing a lot of the ball and were starting to look dangerous down the flanks.
Southport were awarded a free-kick midway inside the Garstang half; the cross was headed back across the face of the Garstang goal and Conteh was left with a simple tap in to extend the lead.
Alan Coar was replaced by Hislop and this change paid immediate dividends when the ball fell kindly to Hislop, who fired a tremendous 25-yard shot into the top corner to reduce the deficit against the run of play.
Straight from the restart, Southport almost scored again when a 30-yard shot just went past Curwen’s left-hand post.
The game looked over as a contest when a neat build-up resulted in O’Brien shooting past Curwen from the edge of the box.
With nothing to lose Garstang threw caution to the wind and played much higher up the pitch as a team.
With the clock ticking down Hothersall chased down a Rick Coar header and calmly slotted home to make the score 3-2.
Southport now looked nervous as mistakes crept in, and with two minutes of injury time played, the Southport keeper spilled a soft shot.
The ball was crossed straight to Rick Coar to head home for an equaliser which gave a Garstang a share of the points.