A defensive howler from Joe Magunda condemned Brakes to a second successive home league defeat on Saturday, writes Paul Okey.
Fresh from their relegation from the Conference National, Southport came into the game buoyed by successive victories.
However, with loan signing Milan Butterfield making an impressive full debut in the home side’s engine room, it was Leamington who asked most of the questions before Magunda’s 75th-minute aberration.
Butterfield for Gittings was Brakes’ only change from Tuesday night’s defeat to Tamworth, with the former Kidderminster midfielder dropping to the bench as he rested an infected toe.
The home side were almost given a dream inside the first minute when Rob Thompson-Brown’s flick-on allowed Colby Bishop to race into the box but instead of pulling the trigger the striker took an extra touch and the chance was lost.
A fierce drive from Junior English went straight at Iain Turner in the visitors’ goal before Butterfield released Thompson-Brown, who fired into the advertising hoardings as the angle narrowed.
Andrew White shot into the midriff of Tony Breeden from an acute angle but it was a rare sight of goal for the Sandgrounders who were struggling to find any rhythm as Brakes harried and tracked back impressively.
Bishop showed good strength to get a shot away under pressure but he was unable to direct it on target.
The game then descended into a midfield arm-wrestle, with Brakes finally wresting control as the game neared the half-hour mark.
An English header from a Connor Gudger cross went well over, while Ahmed Obeng drew a fine sprawling save from Turner after Richard Taundry’s long throw had been flicked on.
A rasping shot from Dominic Smith was straight at Breeden who was now a peripheral figure as Leamington continued to boss the game.
English was brought down by John Paul Kissock to earn a free-kick in a promising position just outside the area. Taundry’s dead ball hit the wall and was half-cleared to Thomspon-Brown whose well-struck follow-up was heading for the top corner before the intervention of Turner.
The visitors’ keeper then denied Jamie Hood with his legs after the defender had got up well at the far post to connect with a Thompson-Brown corner.
English was taken off at the break as a precaution following an earlier clash of heads with Andrew White which left the Southport defender sporting a swathe of bandages, Gittings replacing him.
The switch did little to disrupt the balance of play, however, with Brakes continuing to look threatening despite struggling to carve out any clearcut chances.
A desperate lunge from Hood at the far post was inches away from connecting with a Thompson-Brown free-kick, while Obeng was unable to work a shooting chance after nipping in between a defender and Turner to steal possession.
A Thompson-Brown cross flashed dangerously across the face of goal, while Bradley Jackson was off target with a rasping drive for Southport after a rare moment of cohesion from the visitors.
Obeng cut inside before driving a shot just wide of the post before Brakes were cut open for the first time in the 74th minute, White firing into the side netting after a well-worked move down the right.
Despite Southport coming so close to an opener, it was still a surprise when they took the lead just 60 seconds later.
There seemed little danger as Magunda retreated to tidy up a hopeful ball over the top from Adam Dugdale. However, the centre-back failed to get enough purchase on his back pass and substitute Ethan Jones nipped in to roll the ball past Breeden, with it trickling over the line despite a last-ditch attempt to clear from Hood.
It was a real hands-on-the-head moment from Magunda and despite Holleran throwing on Kurtis Revan and Stefan Moore in an attempt to salvage something from the game, the belief had been sucked from the hosts with most of the remainder of the game seemingly spent near the home side’s corner flag as Southport cleverly ran down the clock.
Brakes: Tony Breeden, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Clarke, Jamie Hood, Joe Magunda, Rob Thompson-Brown (Kurtis Revan, 79), Milan Butterfield, Colby Bishop (Stefan Moore, 79), Junior English (Callum Gittings, 46), Ahmed Obeng. Subs not used: Tom James, Liam Canavan.
Southport: Iain Turner, Bradley Jackson, Andrew White, Curtis Jones, Adam Dugdale, Dominic Smith, John Paul Kissock, Alex Fletcher (Steven Jennings, 53), Gary Roberts, Jack Sampson, Liam Martin (Ethan Jones, 64). Subs not used: Yves Zama, Rowan Roach, Gerard Garner.