Southport 3 Imps 3
There were two changes to the City starting line-up for this Tuesday night Vanarama Conference game at Southport with Tony Diagne replacing the injured Tom Anderson and Hamza Bencherif returning at the expense of Jon Nolan.
Southport kicked off at it was a cagey opening as both teams took their time to settle into proceedings on what was a greasy playing surface following earlier rain, with a cleared third minute Southport corner, which came after Karl Ledsham cleared following a slip by Sean Newton being the only action of note early on.
In the eighth minute Tom Miller was forced to clear a cross for another corner and when this was played in, Dominic Collins saw his header superbly tipped over by Nick Townsend. The follow-up flag-kick ended up with City - starting with a 4-4-2 formation - winning a goal-kick.
City's first attack of note came shortly afterwards and when Marcus Marshall sent in a low 11th minute cross, there was DELANO SAM-YORKE to send a clever flick past David Raya Martin with the ball nestling in the net via the inside of the right-hand upright.
There was a quick response from Southport with David Fitzpatrick fizzing a low effort just wide from 20 yards whilst at the other end Newton whipped in a cross which flew just in front of former Southport man Ledsham as he ghosted in to the box.
City kept up the pressure though and in the 17th minute they doubled their advantage when, after the home defence failed to clear their lines following a swift attack, the ball fell to BEN TOMLINSON who duly planted an excellent shot across Raya Martin from the edge of the box.
Almost straight from the restart Tomlinson had a great chance to bag another but, after he was released down the middle, opted to square for Sam-Yorke and although he kept the ball alive and squared to his strike partner, Tomlinson fired well over.
City dealt with a fourth Southport corner at the other end whilst the response saw Marshall win a corner off ex-Imp Luke Foster, whose challenge left the current Imp limping when he got back to his feet. After the corner was cleared Marshall did well to recover and win a throw-in.
On the half hour mark Townsend saved well from Brodie after Fitzpatrick had an effort blocked by the Imps defence. A mistimed challenge by Miller on Charlie Joyce then gave the home side the chance to create something from a free-kick on their left and when the delivery wasn't dealt with the ball ran to Charlie Joyce who saw his effort deflect past Townsend to make it 2-1.
A foul on Sam-Yorke two minutes later saw the Imps regain their two-goal advantage with Richard Brodie deflecting Newton's near-post delivery straight into the top corner of the net.
The former Grimsby striker made amends though as, from Southport's next attack he met a cross from the right before heading powerfully past Townsend. Before play restarted he was spoken to along with Miller with the pair clashing off the ball.
With tackles starting to fly in, Rutherford had a 25-yard drive off the off the post before Diagne cleared a Fitzpatrick effort off the line after Townsend made a hash of a ball into the area. Joyce then appeared to lead with an arm on Sam-Yorke but referee Ian Hussin spotted nothing untowards.
Temperatures remained on the high side with Joyce leaving a foot in on Mendy after Townsend palmed away a cross from the left and in the early stages of added timeLuke George slid in hard on on Sam-Yorke but again the officials let play carry on.
The half eventually ended with George seeing yellow for a late challenge on Arnaud Mendy with the players leaving the field at the half-time whistle with a bit of push and shove on the agenda close to the touchline.
HT: SOUTHPORT 2 IMPS 3
Both sides emerged unchanged following a well-earned half-time breather and the second half started where the first one finished with Clayton McDonald taking out Ledsham as he broke forward and after referee Hussin let play continue, Tomlinson was denied by a superb Raya Martin save.
McDonald was duly booked for the aforementioned offence on Ledsham, who was able to resume his duties whe he got back to his feet.
After a rare quiet spell, a Newton free-kick was flicked on before Tomlinson was denied by Raya Martin and before the resultant corner could be taken, Joyce required treatment. When it was, the hosts scrambled clear with Foster pumping forward to Townsend.
A formation switch for City saw Miller slot in to a back three with Marshall & Newton operating in wing-back roles and Marshall played his part in a move which ended up seeing Sam-Yorke curl an angled 25-yard drive just wide in the 62nd minute.
A scrappy second period continued before the home side were awarded a questionable free-kick which City fortunately dealt with before Marshall and Sam-Yorke combined to win a throw-in.
City cleared a 70th minute Southport corner and four minutes later won one of their own but this ended up with Tomlinson firing well wide. John Marsden then replaced Ross Dyer for the home side.
A Tomlinson through-ball just evaded the advancing Ledsham before Sam-Yorke was denied by brave keeping from Raya Martin who sprinted off his line to claim under pressure from the sprinting City forward.
At the other end, and with 10 minutes on the clock, substitute Marsden flicked a header wide following a free-kick into City box and from their next foray forward, Southport were denied when Townsend pulled off a fantastic save to deny Brodie; the 'keeper tipping over at full stretch.
The resultant corner was somehow cleared with the last touch seeing Townsend deny McDonald a foot out. Another scramble ensued from the next flag-kick before Tomlinson hacked clear.
After Joe Connor replaced Joyce for the home side Ledsham was denied by Raya Martin after a clever Marshall drag back but it wasn't long before the home side attacked and when substitute Marsden gained possession in the 86th minute, he sent in a 25-yard shot on the turn which flew into the top right corner of Townsend's net.
Matty Challinor replaced the impressive David Fitzpatrick for Southport a couple of minutes later before a Newton free-kick failed to trouble the home defence. Tomlinson was then denied by Raya Martin before the Fourth Official indicated that a minimum of five minutes were to be added on.
The only action of note during these extra stages saw Bencherif curl a low effort wide following a swift Tomlinson break with the game ending after Miller headed away a Southport corner.
The drama continued though after the final whistle with referee Hussin showing a straight red card with Bencherif appearing to be the recipient.
FT: SOUTHPORT 3 IMPS 3
26 Nick TOWNSEND
2 Tom MILLER
23 Nat BROWN
6 Tony DIAGNE
3 Sean NEWTON
12 Arnaud MENDY
10 Karl LEDSHAM
5 Hamza BENCHERIF
22 Marcus MARSHALL
11 Ben TOMLINSON
15 Delano SAM-YORKE
4 Todd JORDAN
8 Alan POWER
14 Jon NOLAN
17 Jake CAPRICE
31 David PREECE
GOALS: SAM-YORKE (11), TOMLINSON (17), BRODIE (35 og)
SENDING OFF: BENCHERIF (90+6)
19 David RAYA MARTIN
5 Dominic COLLINS
23 Clayton McDONALD
6 Luke FOSTER
12 Jonny LYNCH
3 David FITZPATRICK
8 Luke GEORGE
14 Charlie JOYCE
10 Richard BRODIE
16 Paul RUTHERFORD
17 Ross DYER
2 Matty CHALLINOR (for FITZPATRICK 88)
15 Joe CONNOR (for JOYCE 83)
18 John MARSDEN (for DYER 75)
20 Paul SMITH
1 Danny LLOYD-WESTON
GOALS: JOYCE (33), BRODIE (37), MARSDEN (86)
BOOKINGS: GEORGE (45+2), McDONALD (48)
REFEREE: Ian Hussin
ASSISTANTS: Mark Powell & Ian Gittins
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Peter Gibbons
ATTENDANCE: 746 (53 City supporters)