Southport 1, Vauxhall 1: THE Motormen battled hard for a well-earned point on their first ever trip to Haig Avenue on Saturday after Terry Fearns was sent off in what seemed to be a case of mis-taken identity.
Vauxhall's leading scorer was given his marching orders in first half stoppage time for allegedly striking out at home left back Alex Mortimer, even though he was several yards away.
Manager Owen Brown said: 'The referee decided to have a game of his own, the lad was nowhere near the incident. The Southport boy told us that nobody had touched him and he'd just fallen over. Our lads did a good job in the circumstances and battled and passed the ball well.'
The visitors played the more attractive football in the first half but Southport created the better chances.
Tim Dittmar caught the ball on his own goal-line after palming a powerfully-struck Kevin Leadbetter shot up into the air when Carl Macauley's back header was hit short.
A looping header from Barry Jones dipped just over the Vauxhall crossbar while Carl Nesbitt spurned the Motormen's best chance of the first half, firing wide from a Terry Fearns lay-off.
Referee Neil Yates, who had already upset both sides with five seemingly unnecessary bookings, then caused more controversy in the fifth minute of stoppage time by sending off Fearns.
Although the distraught striker made his way back to the dressing room with minimal fuss, the decision sparked an unsavoury mêlée in the dugout area but fortunately everyone had calmed down by the restart.
Southport took the lead in the 66th minute when Alan Griffiths was penalised for a high foot and on-loan striker Neil Robinson headed in substitute Lee Ashcroft's floated free kick.
Vauxhall were level a minute later following a dreadful mix-up in the home defence when keeper Steve Dickinson failed to control right back Danny Stone's slack back pass.
Robbie Lawton's resultant left wing corner was flicked on by Mark Roberts and Peter Cumiskey crashed the ball into the net off the crossbar from close range to earn a share of the spoils.
Vauxhall: Dittmar, Macauley, Robertson, Spellman, Roberts, Lynch, Nesbitt (Porter 85), Lawton, Fearns, Griffiths, Cumiskey. At -tendance: 822.