FORMER Accrington Stanley striker Shaun Whalley only rejoined struggling Southport last week after two seasons in the football wilderness with Droylsden and Hyde United.

On Saturday, however, the two-goal returning hero was making wallies of a York City defence that capitulated alarmingly for a second successive away match on their way to a 4-0 defeat.

There were, of course, extenuating circumstances for the 5-0 thrashing at Luton on the Minstermen’s previous road trip.

Goalkeeper Michael Ingham’s 14th-minute sending off led to a farcical situation due to the absence of a substitute stopper on the bench and skipper Chris Smith went on to ship four first-half goals.

Manager Gary Mills will be less inclined to completely disregard that experience as a freak result now, however, having witnessed his team crumble again once their ever-reliable central-defensive axis of Smith and David McGurk was subjected to another enforced break up.

McGurk’s red card for denying Whalley a goalscoring opportunity after only 71 seconds – City’s third dismissal in as many games – obviously did not help the visitors’ cause.

But there are as many, if not more, examples in football of teams defying their numerical advantages and fighting on bravely as there are of those going on to suffer embarrassingly heavy defeats.

Frustratingly, though, Saturday’s match was over as a contest on 21 minutes when substitute Greg Young went crashing carelessly into John-Paul Kissock close to the corner flag and the former Everton trainee’s subsequent free-kick was allowed to bounce in the visitors’ penalty box before being headed past Ingham by unimposing right-back Kevin Lee.

Earlier, McGurk had been given his marching orders after Smith’s slip on a skiddy surface allowed Rob Marsh-Evans’ hopeful long ball to bounce through to Whalley.

Having been caught the wrong side of the one-time Wrexham and Chester attacker, McGurk made the mistake of leaning into him from behind and, when Whalley tumbled to the ground, referee Scott Duncan had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and then to the dressing room.

Left-back Chris Lever sidefooted his penalty high to Ingham’s left with the City ’keeper anticipating wrongly by diving in the opposite direction.

Two minutes later, the Merseyside part-timers had doubled their advantage with Whalley being given the freedom of City’s penalty box to hook the ball over his shoulder and into Ingham’s top right-hand corner from 12 yards.

Mills responded by replacing James Meredith, playing in an unfamiliar midfield position, with Young, allowing Chris Carruthers, who had been filling in for McGurk in the centre, to shift back to left-back.

The City boss also signalled for Ashley Chambers to play as a more central striking foil for the forlorn Michael Rankine with the willing Peter Till operating in midfield alongside Levi Mackin and Andre Boucaud.

Southport’s decisive third goal soon followed, however, after Young’s reckless challenge.

The former Altrincham defender also had Ingham to thank when Matty McNeil had escaped his attentions on 37 minutes with the former Northern Ireland international preventing a fourth goal by smothering the cumbersome striker’s close-range shot.

At the other end, Chambers, Till and Carruthers – City’s best three performers on a depressing afternoon – all forced blocks and saves before the interval.

But, just two minutes after the restart, the Sandgrounders had a fourth goal.

Captain Smith tried to shepherd the ball either out of play or for Ingham to come and collect.

But, with the City ’keeper rooted to his line, Whalley stole in to cross back from the byline and Karl Ledsham’s effort was deflected narrowly wide.

From the resulting corner, Ingham could only parry Alan Moogan’s 25-yard drive and Whalley was on hand to tap in the loose ball.

City did threaten home ’keeper Tony McMillan’s goal in the second period, most notably through substitute Jamie Reed but Till came closest to a consolation when his stoppage-time effort, perhaps intended as a cross, bounced off the top of the Southport bar.

The home side had been reduced to ten men themselves on 87 minutes when substitute Robbie Williams hobbled out of the action.

By then, though, City were resigned to losing by a margin of four goals or more for the fourth time on their travels this season.

Match facts

Southport 4 (Lever (pen) 2; Whalley 4, 47; Lee 21), York City 0

York City: Michael Ingham 5, Daniel Parslow 5, David McGurk, Chris Smith 4, Chris Carruthers 7, Levi Mackin 6, Andre Boucaud 6, James Meredith, Ashley Chambers 7, Michael Rankine 5, Peter Till 7.

Subs: Greg Young 4 (for Meredith, 6), Will Hatfield 6 (for Boucaud, 46), Jamie Reed 7 (for Rankine, 55). Not used: Constantine, McDermott.

Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.

City’s star man: Carruthers – kept plugging away down the left and maintained his defensive standards.

Southport: Tony McMillan, Kevin Lee, Adam Flynn (Robbie Williams, 39), Rob Marsh-Evans, Chris Lever, Liam Blakeman, Alan Moogan (Michael Powell, 56), Karl Ledsham, John-Paul Kissock, Matty McNeil, Shaun Whalley (Tony Gray, 72).

Subs not used: Paul Barratt, Steve Dickinson.

Booked: Hatfield 71.

Sent off: McGurk 2.

Shots on target: Southport 7, York 8.

Shots off target: Southport 4, York 5.

Corners: Southport 5, York 7.

Fouls conceded: Southport 8, York 6.

Offsides: Southport 10, York 2.

Referee: Scott Duncan (Newcastle). Rating: the odd aberration but red card was probably right decision.

Attendance: 1,308.

Cross of the match: Carruthers sent in an excellent first-half centre that Rankine could not get a clean strike at.

Dribble of the match: Nimble footwork by Chambers led to a shot that Flynn did well to block.

Head to head - Levi Mackin v John-Paul Kissock

City struggled to put the shackles on Kissock, who was handed a roving attacking role by manager Liam Watson. The diminutive 21-year-old operated effectively in the spaces between Mackin and the visitors’ back four, using possession wisely.

It is not City’s style to assign man-marking duties for midfielders but Kinnock was less effective when Mackin was used in a more deep-lying role screening the defence following Hatfield’s introduction for Boucaud after the break.