Southport 0 Nuneaton Town 1
Daniel Nti's first half strike is enough for victory as battling Boro' take all three points at Southport.
Gary Charles got his first league win as Boro' Boss as Daniel Nti's deflected effort was enough for all three points at Haig Avenue. Southport, who boast the league's top-scorer in Jason Gilchrist, were shutout by a battling Nuneaton Town side that showed great determination as they picked up their sixth away win of the season.
Nuneaton could have been ahead as early as the first minute. Winning a corner, almost directly from the kick-off, Ryan Beswick's centre found Ashley Chambers on the near post. The prolific striker's header down hit one of his teammates on the goal line and was eventually scrambled clear by Southport.
The opening exchanges were wide open and Dion Charles shot narrowly wide for the Sandgrounders as they looked to get on the front foot. Nti, who was a constant nuisance to the Southport defence, was controversially booked for simulation after the Referee, Benjamin Speedie, felt he went down too easily in the box.
Southport, managed by former England striker Kevin Davies, had a sustained period of pressure as the Boro' struggled to get clear of their own half, but they couldn't make it count and Nuneaton made them pay for it as they took control of the match.
Luther Wildin burst forward and got a shot in that Jon Worsnop pushed around the post. From the resulting corner Niall Heaton got up at the near post and saw his header blocked on the line as well. Worsnop gathered but the hosts couldn't push forward and the ball was soon back in their area. James Ferry's ball in to the box picked out Nti, who had time to turn and shoot. His shot took a deflection that left Worsnop with no chance as the ball found it's way in to the far corner.
Looking for an immediate response, Southport whipped a couple of crosses in from the right that flashed, dangerously, across the face of goal, but that was the extent of their goal threat in the first half. George Green was lucky to escape a booking for his sliding challenge on former Boro' midfielder David Morgan but his luck ran out just moments later when his name did go into the Referee's note book for a challenge in the attacking third.
Boro' began the second period pressing high up the pitch and their phenomenal work rate made it very difficult for Southport to make any headway. Both sides made substitutions before the hour mark as Kairo Mitchell came on for Green, meaning that Nti dropped back to play just behind the front two. Nuneaton looked far the more likely to score in the early going with Ferry forcing a save and Nti shooting narrowly wide.
Mitchell showed his blazing speed as he chased down a clearance that forced Worsnop to react and save at his feet. Buoyed by his recent goal for Grenada, Mitchell's pace very nearly caught out Southport on a couple of occasions as the former Leicester City man made his case for a place in the starting line-up.
As the match entered its closing stages Southport had by far their best chance. Two substitutes combined as Alex Whittle whipped in an excellent cross from the left that Ross Hannah reached at the far post, diverting his chance inches wide under pressure from Ross Etheridge in the Boro' goal. After surviving that scare Nuneaton pushed on once again and Chambers hit the bar with a cross/shot that had Worsnop stranded.
After his Man of the Match performance against Alfreton Town on Good Friday, Tom Elliott was superb once again, battling for possession and looking assured on the ball. The combative midfielder was withdrawn in the dying minutes as Billy Daniels came on to help see out the match. Kelvin Langmead and Ryan Johnson looked completely in tune at the heart of Boro's defence as they consistently shut down Southport and were good value for their cleansheet.
York City are the visitors to the LDJ Solicitors Stadium on Tuesday night as the Boro' know that another win will virtually guarantee their safety. It's a 19:45 kick-off as Charles makes his home debut against the Minstermen, looking to maintain the unbeaten start to his managerial career.