Honours even as Ports promote youth with one eye on final

Ronnie McFall. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Ronnie McFall. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Portadown wrapped up the Danske Bank Premiership with a 1-1 draw at home to Linfield and a starting line-up that reflected the importance of next weekend’s Irish Cup final.

Five products of the club’s youth development system stepped out in the starting line-up and three additional teenagers featured on the substitutes’ bench - with a host of senior names watching events from the stands.

Both sets of players formed a pre-match guard of honour in tribute to Linfield’s Peter Thompson on his final appearance in Belfast blue.

Chris Casement’s appearance in the stand then attracted special praise from the home support following news on Friday of the defender’s successful appeal against a six-match suspension.

Both goals arrived inside the opening nine minutes.

Darren Murray guided in a crisp shot to capitalise on Linfield’s failure to clear the threat.

Linfield levelled thanks to Aaron Burns’ close-range effort off a Ross Clarke cutback.

David Miskelly produced a string of fine stops across the afternoon and Jordan Lyttle enjoyed another positive performance in the heart of the defence alongside the ever-improving Ken Oman.

Robert Garrett was handed minutes in preparation for the cup showpiece at The Oval and the midfielder proved impressive with a spirited performance that offered encouragement for next weekend.

Marcio Soares, one of the teenagers on show, almost enjoyed the benefits of Garrett’s display when he latched on to a pass from deep late in the first half but his driving run ended with a shot that bounced off the inside of the post.

PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Chris Ramsey, Ken Oman, Jordan Lyttle, Christian Stewart, Jake Richardson, Shea Conaty, Marcio Soares, Darren Murray, Michael Gault, Robert Garrett. Subs: Billy Brennan, Paul McElroy, Mark Whitten, Chris Ferguson (on for Murray, 84 mins), Padraig Judge (on for Conaty, 61 mins).

LINFIELD: Gareth Deane, Sean Ward, Niall Quinn, Matthew Clarke, Chris Hegarty, Jimmy Callacher, Kirk Miller, Ross Clarke, Aaron Burns, Michael Carvill, Peter Thompson. Subs: Ross Glendinning, Rodney Brown (on for Miller, 71 mins), Mark Haughey, Sammy Morrow (on for Carvill, 23 mins), Andrew Waterworth (on for Hegarty, 84 mins)

Referee: Raymond Hetherington.