REPORT: Widnes 0-3 Southport
Pre-season preparations begin with home defeat
Southport proved a tough test for Widnes on a cool evening at the Halton Stadium, eventually running out 3-0 winners.
The Sandgrounders controlled the first half and led 1-0 at the break, with Bradley Bauress putting the visitors ahead after just four minutes.
Second half goals from Liam Davies and Jason Gilchrist would ultimately put the game to bed, but Widnes displayed signs of promise in their first pre-season outing against tough National League North opposition.
Sam Sheen captained a Widnes side that included new signings Danny Ventre, Ben Cartwright, Jamie Rainford and Bram Johnstone in the starting line-up, alongside last season’s stalwarts Richie Mottram, co-boss Steve Akrigg and George Lomax.
Southport started well and looked the sharper side having beat Radcliffe in midweek – the side that Widnes meet on the opening day of the season.
Liam Watson’s men would take a fourth minute lead as Gilchrist found space down the left, stinging the gloves of Mottram with Bauress tucking home the opener on the rebound.
Lewis Doyle hit a dipping 20-yard effort into the gloves of Mottram midway through the half, before Gilchrist saw an effort blocked after good work by Billy Whittle at the back-post.
Mottram would produce a stunning reflex save to deny an Andy Hollins header on the half-hour mark, who rose highest to meet Doyle’s cross from the left as Southport pushed for the elusive second goal.
Widnes made nine changes at the break with only goalkeeper Mottram and youngster Tom Croughan retaining their places, with new signing Dale Korie-Butler, club captain Kev Pollard and co-manager Kev Towey making appearances.
The hosts were an improved outfit in the second half and came close to grabbing an immediate equaliser as Towey combined with Croughan who saw a powerful effort crash against the foot of the post and away to safety.
Towey then went close before Korie-Butler hit a wild effort off target.
Young goalkeeper Lex Hancocks was introduced on the hour-mark, but his first piece of action was to pick the ball out of his own net.
Davies was the man to add a second goal for Southport, bending a well-taken first-time strike into the back of the net leaving the young shot-stopper with no chance.
The Sandgrounders then made four changes, but it failed to disrupt their rhythm as they netted a third moments later, with Gilchrist latching on to a through-ball and calmly rounding Hancocks before sliding home a composed finish.
The victory was a deserved one for Southport, who continue their preparation for the National League North campaign. It was a very good run-out for Widnes, who will take plenty of positives into Tuesday’s outing at Bootle.
Widnes (First Half): Richie Mottram, Elliott Jones, Dylan Sweeney, Danny Ventre, Steve Akrigg, Ben Cartwright, Tom Croughan, Sam Sheen (c), Lomax, Rainford, Johnstone
Widnes (Second Half): Richie Mottram (Lex Hancocks 60), Peter Doran (Trialist 75), Michael Burke, Ben Jackson, Phil Doran, Kev Pollard (c), Michael Grogan, Tom Croughan, George Webster, Dale Korie-Butler, Kev Towey (Ventre 82)
Southport: Dan Hanford, Dean Winnard, Zac Corbett (Trialist 17, Devarn Green 68), Lewis Doyle (Jordan Richards 68), Andy Hollins, Billy Priestley, Billy Whittle (Nathan Lowe 68), Liam Davies, Jason Gilchrist, Dan Cockerline (Mike Phenix 68), Bradley Bauress