The fireworks echoed around the Big Help Stadium on Tuesday night, an hour after Southport made it successive wins under new manager Jim Bentley.
Lighting up the sky might be premature on a hot night in early September, but a fire has been sparked at Haig Avenue after the recently-appointed boss was triumphant in his home bow.
Seventy-two hours ago, Bentley was entering the unknown, taking over a Southport side who were on a barren run without a win. From Saturday to Tuesday, the Sandgrounders have not only ended their drought but won successive matches for the first time since October 2022, picking up their first home league win since March.
It was only seven days ago that the former Morecambe, AFC Fylde and Rochdale manager was introducing himself to the Sandgrounders media team following his announcement as Liam Watson’s successor.
The iconic manager, Watson, opted to move upstairs after being at the helm during the difficult Southport run, leaving them rooted to the spot.
The 53-year-old, who was watching on, on Tuesday night, couldn’t resist a smile at what he witnessed, clapping the players off as they went into the tunnel.
A week two matches and one training session later, Port are off the foot of the table and just one point outside of the relegation zone.
Niall Watson continued his fine form with a brace, following Marcus Carver’s opener.
The Watson-Carver combination handed Bentley a dream managerial debut away at Hereford on Saturday. But on Tuesday, it was the ever-impressive Tyler Walton who was the architect of the first goal.
Walton teed up Carver after a gut-busting run into the 18-yard box. The Scunthorpe United loanee, took one touch and curled in off the post, past Joseph Cracknell.
Within two minutes, Southport – a club that only had two goals before Saturday – doubled their lead. Jonathan Greening’s side were careless in possession, handing the ball to Preston North End loanee, Mikey O’Neill who slipped in Watson who fired beneath the Seadogs goalkeeper.
It could’ve been a different story at the other end had it not been for Chris Renshaw and some last-ditch defending. Earlier in the exchange, Scarborough broke quickly in transition ending with a low effort from Alex Brown which was well-saved by the legs of the Sandgrounders shot-stopper.
Frank Mulhern managed to squirm free of the two Southport centre-backs but as he went one-on-one with the former Curzon Ashton goalkeeper, a combination of Jack Doyle, Adam Anson and Harry Flowers kept the one-time Port attacker at bay.
Watson squeezed the ball home after O’Neill capitalised on another piece of sloppy defending from Scarborough. The 19-year-old loan signing scooped it over the top for the attacker who rounded Cracknell before firing goalwards.
There would be no second straight clean sheet for the hosts as Mulhern’s thunderbolt nestled in the top corner to provide Scarborough Athletic with a mere consolation.
What a difference a week makes, ‘super’ Jim Bentley is quickly endearing himself to the Southport faithful, and those fans chanting at the top of their lungs walking down Haig Avenue will have an extra spring in their step until Saturday, at least. Although they’ve passed two tests so far, there is still 38 to go.
Southport 3-1 Scarborough Athletic
Goals: 33′ Marcus Carver, 35′ 58′ Niall Watson, 78′ Frank Mulhern.