Welcome stroke of luck helps Southam United break their long goal drought

Ben Nicholson's header gave Southam their first goal in 19 hours but there was a bit of fortune about the award. Pictures: Morris Troughton

Ben Nicholson's header gave Southam their first goal in 19 hours but there was a bit of fortune about the award. Pictures: Morris Troughton

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In the end, Southam’s first goal in almost 19 hours of football probably never crossed the line, with manager Alex Baird admitting Ben Nicholson’s header was cleared by a Lichfield City defender in the nick of time.

However, after having a seemingly legitimate goal chalked off earlier, Baird said his side were in no mood to turn a gift horse down.

“We had an earlier effort which appeared to go over the line but the referee and linesmen weren’t up with play.

“I think the referee had that on his mind when he gave the goal,” said Baird, who was nonetheless delighted with his side’s performance on a poignant day for the club.

A minute’s silence marked the passing of club president Bobby Hancocks in the week leading up to the game and Baird said his side’s display in the 2-2 draw was fitting of the occasion.

“If you take away Bromsgrove it was probably our biggest crowd of the season. The day meant a lot to the club.

“(Breaking the goalless streak) banished some demons and it was nice to do it in front of a good crowd.”

Baird admitted Saints’ lack of goals had been weighing heavy on their minds but saw plenty of positives from Saturday despite his side letting slip a two-goal lead to draw the game.

James Keller doubled the home side’s advantage from the spot after being brought down but a 45th-minute strike from Matthew Tolley got the seventh-placed visitors back into the game before Tolley added a second just past the hour to restore parity.

“The strikers were low on confidence,” said Baird.

“For us, we were almost worrying too much and panicking on the ball.

“The strikers have not been getting good service.

“But it’s been better the last few games.

“No team has scored a good goal against us. We’ve been masters of our own downfall.

“We’re not mentally fit enough.

“So it was real turning point on Saturday.

“I didn’t want to concede a goal before half-time so when we did it made my team talk a little harder because of the all the effort the players had put in in the first half, but also a little easier as they knew they could not afford to switch off.

“So when the second goal went in it was real testament to the players how deep they dug.

“They put into practice all the things we’ve been working on on the training ground and we made Lichfield worry about us.”

With eight games to play, Saints are almost certain to finish bottom of the Midland League Division One but Baird says there is still plenty to play for, with the club hopeful of persuading the league authorities not to relegate them.

“Without a budget it is tough. We want to stay up, prove we are viable.

“If we can win four or five games it shows we are a viable team and then we can progress to the next stage.

“If we can have a good pre-season we have half a chance with a budget.

“We’ve got the makings of a top-ten team - I’ve brought so many players in that they are still gelling.

“A lot of that, though, depends on budget. It plays a key part, that and attitude, I don’t want players coming here just for the money.”