PORTADOWN’S Setanta Sports Cup adventure was cut short by Drogheda United at the first hurdle tonight (Monday) – with a humiliating 5-0 defeat at Shamrock Park.
The Ports entered the second-leg tie with optimism tempered by the unavailability of key players such as Gary Twigg, Brian Gartland, Garry Breen
and Chris Casement.
Trailing by 3-2 from the first leg in Drogheda – and with the memory of Saturday’s dismal defeat by Dungannon Swifts all-too-fresh – a positive start
was considered vital.
However, the visitors grabbed control of proceedings by breaking the deadlock on the night inside the opening minute thanks to Alan Byrne’s header from a
corner-kick by Eric Foley.
Portadown’s attempts to reclaim a share of possession suffered another setback on 12 minutes when Drogheda doubled the lead.
Neat passing around the middle of the park ended with Gary O’Neill slotting a pass forward which Paul O’Conor raced on to collect central to the goal and
steer home from outside the box.
Portadown’s response featured a Sean Mackle cross just too high for Richard Lecky and cleared, with Ross Redman delivering the corner-kick and Kevin Braniff
firing down into the ground with a volley.
Mark Patton, handed a rare start, attacked along the left wing but Portadown struggled to get support into the danger area. One cross, on 20 minutes, was met
at the near post by Lecky but Drogheda combined to block the threat.
The impressive O’Neill came close on two occasions to increasing the lead when he initially collected an underhit backpass by Chris Ramsey then picked up the
loose ball to attack a second time. However, David Miskelly was on hand to frustrate O’Neill.
Portadown kicked off the second half with increased attacking pressure – with Andrew Burns, Mackle and Darren Murray all getting in behind the Drogheda
Drogheda were prevented from number three by the crossbar when Gavin Brennan’s glancing header off a Philip Hand cross bounced off the frame of the goal.
However, moments later Brennan displayed impressive composure inside the area to tuck away his close-range shot following a goalmouth scramble.
The visitors added a fourth on 78 minutes when Brennan’s cross was headed back across goal by Peter Hynes and David Cassidy diverted home.
Drogheda increased the advantage in injury-time to 5-0 as Brennan’s pass was touched into the path of Hand by Cassidy and the left-back angled in a shot.
PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Andrew Burns, Chris Ramsey, Tim Mouncey, Mark Patton, Darren Murray, Richard Lecky, Aaron Burns, Kevin Braniff, Sean Mackle,
Ross Redman. Subs: Jamie McArdle, Ciaran Rooney (on for Andrew Burns, 75 mins), Ryan Burns, Neil McCafferty (on for M.Patton, 46 mins), Joe McNeill (on for
T.Mouncey, 60 mins), Orman Okunaiya, Michael McLellan.
DROGHEDA UNITED: Gabriel Sava, Philip Hand, Derek Prendergast, Paul O’Conor, Cathal Brady, Ryan Brennan, Gary O’Neill, Gavin Brennan, Shane Grimes, Eric
Foley, Alan Byrne. Substitutes: Michael Schlingerman, Peter Hynes (on for G.O’Neill, 69 mins), David Cassidy (on for E.Foley, 75 mins), Dean Gaynor,
Declan O’Brien (on for C.Brady, 69 mins), Jason Marks.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin