A Bradley Pritchard first half strike was the difference between the two sides as Hayes & Yeading earned three vital points that sees a move out of the drop zone for the first time since the end of October although with more games played than those around us much hard work still remains for this to be the same at the end of the season.
Manager Garry Haylock made
two changes from the long trip to Gateshead on Tuesday evening as Elliott Buchanan and Nathan Webb came in to the starting XI in place of Adam Green and Ben Wright, the latter taking a place on the bench.
It was to be the visiting Sandgrounders who were quickest out of the blocks on a heavy looking Church Road pitch creating two very good openings in the first eight minutes. The first coming on four minutes when John-Paul Kissock exchanged passes with Tony Gray before sliding the ball under the advancing Delroy Preddie whose slight touch took enough off the ball for Charlie Wassmer to clear from the goal-line. The second opening really should have seen United go behind as Matty McNeil played a deft header from inside the area that looped over the defence to Gray but with Preddie to beat and the goal gaping he fired well wide of the far post.
This early pressure seemed to wake United and Southport keeper Tony McMillan was brought into the action just before the quarter hour mark when Jefferson Louis broke away from halfway, despite being tackled in possession the ball ran to Lee Brown who saw his 25 yard drive pushed over by McMillan.
Louis then headed a Bradley Pritchard corner wide of the target before Buchanan broke away on the left and fired in a hard low cross that just evaded Louis in the middle and despite a desperate slide at the far post by Nathan Webb, he was only able to fire into the side netting.
United finally got the breakthrough just after the half hour mark when the ball was picked up on the edge of the area by Buchanan who tried a delicate chip shot that caught McMillan backpeddaling, the visiting keeper managing to touch the ball onto the face of the crossbar but Pritchard was quickest to react by heading the bouncing ball into the vacant net.
Minutes later Pritchard was again advancing into the Southport area, this time his shot was well charged down by defender Earl Davis before it could trouble McMillan.
The final five minutes of the half belonged to the visitors who as they had at the start of the game created two very good openings but failed to capitalise. A ball over the defence from midfield saw a foot race between striker Karl Ledsham and United's Nathan Webb, the young defender putting enough pressure on his opponent whereby a heavy touch touch the ball into Preddie's reach which he gratefully accepted.
As the half drew to a close a corner from the right was met at the near post by McNeil but his glancing header went across goal and wide of the far post.
While the second half was to see a fair share of the ball for both sides, virtually all of the creation came from the home side as Preddie was rarely needed although he did manage to claw out a corner from under his own crossbar midway through the half, this being the closest that the visitors came to an equaliser.
United started to quickly push for a second and McMillan grabbed hold of a Louis header and Pritchard saw a shot blocked after he latched onto a McMillan punch that he hit first time from the edge of the area.
On the hour the Sandgrounders played a free-kick into the United area that Gray collected before cleverly lifting the ball over Lee Brown's challenge before firing his shot wide of the target without even troubling Preddie. Minutes later at the other end, Pritchard fed the ball to Louis but his shot from distance was comfortably scooped up by McMillan.
For almost the next 20 minutes very little happened in regards to goal chances with shots and passes going astray all over the park. Just nine minutes remained when a Preddie punt was superbly brought down by Louis who proceeded to move past defender Davis but as with Gray at the other end earlier, he failed to hit the target when well placed.
Three minutes later Louis again picked up the ball from Pritchard before hitting a dipping shot that worried McMillan but went just over the visitors goal. With a couple of minutes remaining, newly arrived substitute Andy Yiadom raced onto a throughball in the left channel before finding Pritchard who tried his luck first time but was off target.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Bradley Pritchard.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.