Belfast blues as Ports struggle in second half against leaders Linfield

Darren Murray fires goalwards at Windsor Park on Saturday during Portadown's 3-0 defeat. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Darren Murray fires goalwards at Windsor Park on Saturday during Portadown's 3-0 defeat. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Six players in the Portadown starting line-up on Saturday walked out at Windsor Park with memories of February’s landmark victory against Linfield.

Last season’s 2-1 win provided a first Irish League success for the Ports away to Linfield since December 2002.

The subsequent six months featured significant progress within the Linfield camp based on last weekend’s convincing 3-0 victory - with Portadown returning from Belfast short of a spark.

Andy Waterworth’s double and a late Guy Bates strike left the Ports down and out but the league leaders held the upper hand for the majority of the match across the pitch.

Ports manager Ronnie McFall has highlighted injury issues as disruptive to the team’s gameplan, with the absence of Peter McMahon - so impressive in February - a signifcant loss in terms of creativiety within the final third.

Portadown carved out a number of openings during a spell of first-half pressure - with Gary Twigg’s header pushed over the crossbar and Darren Murray testing Ross Glendinning. Set-piece play then led to Chris Ramsey’s looping header bouncing off the crossbar and a Ken Oman effort blocked on the line by Jamie Mulgrew.

However, Portadown struggled to build any momentum and Linfield can point to efforts off the frame of the goal before Waterworth broke the deadlock on 53 minutes.

Brennan frustrated Mulgrew soon after but the Linfield midfielder’s return cross was converted by Waterworth to double the lead.

Bates closed the scoring with a curling shot late on.

PORTADOWN: Billy Brennan, Chris Casement, Ken Oman, Garry Breen, Ross Redman, Sean Mackle, Chris Ramsey, Michael Gault, Robert Garrett, Gary Twigg, Darren Murray. Subs: Mark McAllister (on for Ramsey, 64 mins), Christian Stewart (on for Twigg, 89 mins), Marcio Soares, Jake Richardson, Jordan Lyttle.