IRISH LEAGUE: Vinny hopes Ports have hit ‘turning point’

Niall Henderson (right) celebrates with Portadown team-mates after breaking the deadlock against Ballinamallard. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Niall Henderson (right) celebrates with Portadown team-mates after breaking the deadlock against Ballinamallard. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Portadown interim manager Vinny Arkins steered the club to a welcome win on Saturday over Ballinamallard United following a fortnight of off-the-field issues within a season-long battle against relegation.

Irish Football Association disciplinary rulings recently confirmed the Ports’ 12-point deduction across the Danske Bank Premiership - a tally that now sits on minus three thanks to a third success of the league season.

Arkins, who stepped up last weekend following Pat McGibbon’s resignation, was delighted with the result.

“It was touch and go until the end, but those are the games that you walk away from and say the boys dug in and had a bit of pride,” he said. “That’s our first penalty all season and it’s about time we got the rub of the green.

“Overall, I thought it was a great team performance and I’m hoping this is a turning point and the club can build from here on in.

“It’s a massive job and it’s a great club but it’s going to take a while to put it together.

“We had to believe and we did that and came away with the result, with every point vital for us.”

Ballinamallard dominated possession, especially in the first half, but Portadown kicked off the scoring on 32 minutes off Niall Henderson’s penalty kick, after Johnny Lafferty was adjudged to have fouled Aaron Haire inside the box.

The killer blow came four minutes after the restart when the home side failed to clear and Stephen Hughes shot home into the far corner after a good cutback from Robert Garrett.

Ballinamallard hit back on 58 minutes when Jason McCartney released teenager Niall Owens down the left flank. His cross from the byline was inch-perfect for Shane McGinty to nod home on the run from six yards.

The Mallards had enough chances to win the game overall - with McCartney, Adam Lecky, Lafferty, Shane McCabe and Ryan Mayse close - but Portadown working hard to protect the lead.

Gavin Dykes, the Ballinamallard manager, was disappointed with the two goals his side gave away.

“I’m very disappointed overall, but at times we passed the ball well,” he said. “But it’s all about scoring goals and taking opportunities.

“We had plenty of possession, but our quality in the final third in the first half was poor.

“We made mistakes, but still had enough chances to get back into it, but we didn’t take it today.”