Five defeats in a row but small signs of upturn in form levels

Portadown's Robert Garrett (right) battling in last weekend's 3-1 reverse by Crusaders. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Portadown's Robert Garrett (right) battling in last weekend's 3-1 reverse by Crusaders. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Strip away the jeers and angry exchanges and Saturday’s 3-1 defeat by Crusaders could prove a positive in the season - IF the glimpses of a turnaround in form lead to long-term progress.

The weekend reverse by the defending champions marked a fifth consecutive defeat across all competitions for Ronnie McFall’s men.

However, in terms of chances created and degree of possession, Portadown arrived at the final whistle without the reward suggested in the previous 90-plus minutes.

An early goal handed Crusaders the upper hand on five minutes when Michael Carvill’s free-kick was steered goalwards. Billy Brennan produced one save but had little answer to Colin Coates’ close-range finish off the rebound.

Portadown entered half-time on level terms as Peter McMahon picked up Sean Mackle’s pass and delivered a low cross which Darren Murray slotted home on the run.

Crusaders regained control thanks to Jordan Owens’ header which Brennan struggled to hold. Owens played a part in the decisive third goal by winning possession in the centre of the park towards the closing moments then lobbing a ball forward which Paul Heatley collected and pushed past Brennan before finding the net.

The overview of the afternoon featured a positive Portadown response to 1-0 as Mackle had two scoring opportunities alongside carving out a chance which Murray directed at goalkeeper Sean O‘Neill.

It proved a preview of the chance Murray tucked away before the break.

Garry Breen headed wide and substitute Marcio Soares offered a second-half threat.

PORTADOWN: Billy Brennan, Chris Casement, Ross Redman, Chris Ramsey, Garry Breen, Peter McMahon, Sean Mackle, Darren Murray, Robert Garrett, Michael Gault, Jake Richardson. Subs: Keith O’Hara, Ken Oman, Marcio Soares (on for McMahon, 61 mins), Tim Mouncey, Matthew Parker.