Blues put four past Ports but “more to come”

Adam Rodgers attempts to block Mark Stafford's header - with the match officials ruling the ball eventually crossed the line for Linfield's second goal against Portadown. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Adam Rodgers attempts to block Mark Stafford's header - with the match officials ruling the ball eventually crossed the line for Linfield's second goal against Portadown. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Linfield manager David Healy watched his players put four goals past Portadown then declared there is “more to come” from the unbeaten Blues.

Ross Gaynor handed Linfield a first-half lead before a Belfast blitz after the break resulted in Mark Stafford, Paul Smyth and Aaron Burns increasing the advantage.

Robert Garrett’s long-range strike proved the pick of the goals but offered Portadown little consolation following a performance which featured positive passages of play but lacked an attacking punch and featured individual defensive errors.

“We were the better team but credit to Portadown as they played with a lot of desire and work-rate,” said Healy. “They looked a lot fitter compared to last season and had a real hunger.

“We scored four goals and finished with three points but there is still a lot more to come from this group.

“When we click from minute one to minute 90 then we are more than capable of a big performance.

“We will continue to get better.

“I felt our selection was justified but it is not just about the team and it is a given the substitutes are ready to make an impression when called on, which was encouraging today.

“I was pleased for Paul Smyth and he is still learning but has that hunger.

“Two or three times you could see that threat he has when taking people on and Paul will only keep on improving.

“He gave me a real spark last year during times when I was frustrated overall with our performances and will continue to develop.”

Gaynor kicked off the scoring with a low drive to convert Andy Waterworth’s chested knockdown.

A controversial second handed Linfield control just moments after the interval as Stafford’s header was adjudged to have crossed the line despite Portadown protests.

Smyth ghosted into the box for number three to mark his 19th birthday in style before Garrett smashed a superb drive past Roy Carroll.

However, Portadown’s afternoon ended in embarrassment as attempts to play it out of defence ended with Kirk Millar crossing and Burns heading home.

“There was little or nothing in the first half and we got into some really good positions,” said Portadown manager Pat McGibbon. “The second goal made it an uphill battle and I would need to have another look to see if it crossed the line.

“We were really disappointed with the fourth goal and it’s not about blame but we have experienced players so situations like that should not happen.

“Now we must draw a line under what I feel is a harsh scoreline and move on.”