MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) tackles Monday night’s FA Cup first round contest between north-west rivals Southport and Fleetwood.
Southport v Fleetwood | Monday 19.45 | BT Sport 1
Seven points from a possible nine have lifted Southport from rock-bottom in the National League to 19th but the fifth-tier outfit could come unstuck when posed with near neighbours Fleetwood on Monday night.
The visitors have fallen at the first FA Cup hurdle in each of the previous two seasons but under Uwe Rosler’s stewardship, the Cod Army are beginning to look like genuine play-off contenders in League One.
Ten points from 15 (W3-D1-L1) saw Town pushing for the top-six prior to Tuesday's 2-1 defeat to an impressive Bristol Rovers, a disappointing end result having the opened the scoring. Rosler was pleased with his team’s performance, praising his defence but said the side were a little leggy in the dying embers.
The five-day break for the Cod Army should have done the trick and although their W2-D1-L5 return from away league trips hardly sets the pulse racing, it’s worth pointing out that six of those encounters came against clubs in 13th and above. Their two triumphs came against bottom-half Southend and Chesterfield.
Fleetwood flying in the final third
The five losses in games as guests were all by a 2-1 scoreline – highlighting Fleetwood’s ability to get on the scoresheet and remain competitive no matter the opposition – and being one of only three Football League clubs to notch in every game this season, you’d fancy Town to do so again here.
Rosler’s men have plenty of pace about them in attacking areas and always appear menacing when playing on the break. Striker Ashley Hunter has netted in each of his last three appearances, two of which came as a substitute, and he looks an interesting 7/4 (Betfred) to bag a seventh goal of the season.
Southport have shipped 37 goals – the National League’s second-most tally and lost 10 of their 18 encounters this term so I’d expect the visitors to grab a couple. However, despite talking Fleetwood up, it’s worth pointing out that Rosler’s also yet to find the magic formula at the back.
Back a Fleetwood win and Both Teams To Score
The Cod Army have leaked 16 goals in 10 outings and so instead of getting involved in handicap angles, it might be worth having a speculative wager on the away win alongside Both Teams To Score at 11/5 (BWin)
Southport’s back-to-back league victories is bound to have raised spirits in the home dressing room and it’s true that boss Steve Burr has engineered FA Cup success with Chester and Northwich Victoria in previous roles.
Burr’s boys bagged maximum points at Torquay last time out, coming from behind with winger James Caton grabbing a goal, whilst former Fleetwood player Jamie Allen has three goals to his name this season.
The Sandgrounders have won 12 of their 16 points in the National League against bottom-seven dwellers and W0-D4-L9 against sides in 17th and above. But the hosts have at least notched in all bar two home fixtures and can do so again here.
Southport v Fleetwood – Fleetwood to win and Both Teams To Score (11/5 Bwin)
Southport v Fleetwood – Ashley Hunter to score at anytime (7/4 Betfred)