Thirds’ cup progress offers latest boost on top of positive league form

Peter Campbell.
Peter Campbell.

Portadown thirds’ focus switched on Saturday from the fresh challenge of life in NIFL Youth League Section A to an old friend.

The Ports - winners of the Harry Cavan Youth Challenge Cup in 2014 - met Ballinamallard United last weekend in the first round of this season’s knockout competition.

Success by 4-2 in the match marked as the Irish Football Association’s Tie Of The Round arrived thanks to Adam Brown, Peter Campbell and Nathaniel Ferris.

Brown’s brace increased his tally to five in three fixtures. Tiarnan Judge was selected as ‘man-of-the-match’ against Ballinamallard, adding another encouraging display to his run of fine form.

“With so many byes in the Harry Cavan’s first round it was good for us to get a game, especially as we are so keen to maintain the momentum from the league,” said Chris Wright, manager of the thirds. “Moving into Section A this season offers a fresh challenge for everyone and a great opportunity to continue player development.

“We had a tough start with a trip to defending champions Linfield Rangers but produced positive periods in the 2-0 defeat.

“Our main goal this season is to stay up in Section A and we are delighted with the response from the squad.”

Portadown recovered from the Rangers defeat by recording back-to-back wins against Ballymena United and Crusaders Colts.

Brown, Ferris and Thomas Aston found the net against Ballymena alongside two from Northern Ireland youth international Shea Conaty. Brown’s double and a Peter Campbell goal helped secure success at Seaview away to Crusaders.

“The players have been buying into everything and working hard to transfer the ideas from the training pitch into games,” said Wright. “We want to get out and dictate the tempo in games so it is great to see us scoring goals early on in fixtures.

“We return to the league this weekend at Kernan against Glenavon from 11 o’clock.”

PORTADOWN THIRDS: Conor Larkin, Scott Megaw, Owen McConville, Joel Copes, Brendan Litter, Tiarnan Judge, Thomas Aston, Paddy McPartland, Nathaniel Ferris, Adam Brown, Peter Campbell. Subs: Mark Johnston, Zac Crooks, Luke Wilson.