Young Ports impressive despite semi-final defeat

Nedas Maciulaitis, Jamie Haughey and Zac Wilson. Pic by David Maginnis.
Nedas Maciulaitis, Jamie Haughey and Zac Wilson. Pic by David Maginnis.
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Portadown’s return to the Mid-Ulster Cup finished on Tuesday at the semi-final hurdle as Gary Liggett scored against his former club to send Dungannon Swifts into next month’s showpiece.

Portadown handed starting spots to some senior players with one eye on future tests.

However, the Ports also included a number of the next generation - in keeping with the policy of the club in the Mid-Ulster Cup competition.

Paul McElroy, who started his career with Dungannon Swifts ahead of a cross-water switch, attacked along the left early on before the promising move broke down.

A counter-attack featured Murray and Marcio Soares in space against a sole Swifts defender but the former’s low cross towards the latter failed to find the target.

The Swifts grabbed a goal on 39 minutes when Jamie Douglas’ cross from the left was converted with a close-range finish by Liggett.

The Swifts had Portadown on the backfoot after the break before the hosts adjusted, with Zac Wilson assured off the bench.

Substitute Jamie Haughey released a shot from outside the area following clever link-up play between Murray and Casement.

The impressive Haughey split the Swifts backline with a measured sliderule pass that Murray collected during increased home pressure. The striker turned and attacked from the right but Alvin Rouse dropped low to save the resultant shot.

A Portadown penalty shout was waved away when captain Jordan Lyttle fed the ball goalwards after Rouse punched out a long-range free-kick from Casement.

Pauddy Judge then displayed impressive control outside the box and released a volley but Rouse proved in position to collect.

PORTADOWN: Billy Brennan, Chris Casement, Christian Stewart, Jordan Lyttle, Jake Richardson, Paul McElroy, Pauddy Judge, Marcio Soares, Darren Murray, Robert Garrett, Ken Oman. Subs: Jamie Haughey (on for Garrett, 46 mins), Nedas Maciulatis (on for Soares, 81 mins), Zac Wilson (on for McElroy, 25 mins), Mark Whitten, John Gibson.

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Alvin Rouse, Andrew Burns, David Armstrong, Douglas Wilson, Jarlath O’Rourke, Terry Fitzpatrick, Ronan Young, Jamie Glackin, Gary Liggett, Jamie Douglas, Ryan Harpur, Grant Hutchinson (on for Harpur, 65 mins), David McCullough, Andrew Mitchell (on for Douglas, 70 mins), Stefan Lavery (on for Liggett, 76 mins), Fra Brennan.