ON the day the Six Nations kicked off, Blyth Spartans might as well have been playing rugby as well. Apoplectic at Southport’s ‘handling’ of the game, Mick Tait was also agitated by officialdom.
The Croft Park side succumbed to the second-placed Merseysiders having bettered their lofty Blue Square North opponents.
They led through Ian Graham then, after falling 2-1 behind, equalised thanks to Paul Brayson’s eighth goal in six games.
In the dying stages, headers from Mark Doninger and Michael Tait were cleared off the line.
By then, though, injustice had visited upon the Spartans. Earl Davis’ leveller came with a protest that Blyth’s defenders had been fouled in the build-up.
Then, after Chris Simms put Southport ahead and Brayson made it 2-2, Ian Graham sprang clear – only for an opposition defender to leap on the ball, handling it in the process.
Worse followed. Moments later from an offside position, Simms struck the winner.
Tait said: “We have lost a game because of the officials. Southport did not deserve to win.
“We felt there was a foul for their first and their winner was five yards offside.
“Just before then Ian Graham was clean through on their goalkeeper, but the last defender dived on the ball with two hands - I think he thought he was playing in the Six Nations!
“He only got a yellow card when we would probably have scored the winner. Instead, they go up the other end and get it, and that was offside.
“It was just so frustrating because we produced a fantastic performance and dominated a very good side. We deserved at least a point, and they knew it.”
SOUTHPORT: McMillan, Lever, Marsh-Evans, Flynn, Davis, Winn, Booth, Powell, Simm, Kilheeny, McGinn. Subs (not used): Gray, Lake, Barrett, Barnes, Daly.
Goals: Davis 31, Simm 39, 81.
BLYTH SPARTANS: Bell, Harrison, Craddock, Tait, Williams, Pell, McCabe, Turnbull, Brayson, Graham, Dale. Subs (not used): Todd, Norton, Doninger, Bates, Alexander.
Goals: Graham 16, Brayson 47.
Ref: Peter Davies (Cheshire) Att: 738