A late strike from Chris Conway was not enough to prevent Saints crashing out of the FA Vase at the first hurdle at the hands of West Midlands Regional League side Wolverhampton Casuals, writes David Hucker.
Casuals made six changes from the side that beat Bewdley Town 4-1 the week before, including Liam Hughes whose two goals tipped the balance in their favour.
It could have been a different story had Saints taken their early chances but they were made to pay for their lapses in front of goal.
The visitors could have been two or three goals to the good in the opening ten minutes, but a combination of less-than- clinical finishing and smart goalkeeping from Liam Stanton denied Conway twice and Kyle Turner.
Casuals also scrambled the ball off the line from a header following a left-wing corner.
The hosts gradually eased their way into the game, particularly exploiting space on Saints’ left flank, and it was not a total surprise when, in the 31st minute, a long cross from Angelo Franco found Hughes unmarked in the box and his sidefoot finish went in off the post.
Saints could have been level on the stroke of half-time, but Turner fluffed a great one-on-one chance after being played through by debutant Dan Dineen.
Quentin Townsend’s men had most of the play in the second period, but could not conjure up an equaliser.
Then, in the 71st minute, a simple through ball found the Saints defence out of position and Hughes was able to hold off a covering defender to net his second.
Fromer Bromsgrove striker Conway almost scored straight from the restart and did eventually bag his first Southam goal in the 79th minute, twisting and turning in the box before beating Stanton low down at his right-hand post.
Despite mounting pressure and three near-misses from Saints, Casuals held out for a hard-fought victory.
Tomorrow, Saints are back in league action when they host Stafford Town (3pm).
A player-led initiative to raise funds to help pay for an operation for injured striker Louis Bridges is more than half-way to its target.
Bridges has not played since being badly injured in the Les James Challenge Cup final and his team-mates have rallied round to help.
Bridges tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the League Cup final at the Bescot Stadium and defender Matty Hunt said last year’s player of the season deserved his team-mates’ backing.
“He has to pay for an expensive operation and I thought that, as a team, we could raise some money to help and have set a target of £500,” said Hunt.
To donate, log on to https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/SouthamUnited-LouisBridges