Frustration on the road as Ports lack end product

Marcio Soares
Marcio Soares

The setback served to cancel out any gain from the welcome win against Linfield three days’ prior and increased the pressure on securing a top-six Danske Bank Premiership finish.

A rare combination of set-piece vulnerability - created in part by a reshaped backline due to injury and suspension - and a lack of threat from corner-kicks or free-kicks in the home danger area left David Miskelly busy between the Ports posts and his opposite number, Alvin Rouse, tested most often from open play.

Mark McAllister and Marcio Soares proved an effective front pairing in the Linfield success and the latter was at the heart of Monday’s final-third talking points. The teenager often forced Ballinamallard on to the backfoot but lacked composure, as a result inevitably of inexperience, at crucial moments.

The visitors’ main point of discussion arrived when superb work wide on the right by McAllister ended with a low pass across the face of the penalty area which a supporting Sean Mackle met on the run with a sweeping, dipping shot. Mackle’s effort bounced off the underside of the crossbar and down - with the match officials ruling the chance had not crossed the line.

James McKenna’s strike - after an Ivan Sproule shot bounced off the post and his Ballinamallard team-mate proved first to react - left the Ports down and out.

A string of scoring opportunities for either side left a question mark over how the match produced a single goal. However, for the Ports, the greater question is how to turn the improved performance levels into a consistent points return.

PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Chris Casement, Ross Redman, Chris Ramsey, Garry Breen, Sean Mackle, Mark McAllister, Tim Mouncey, Michael Gault, Philip Lowry, Marcio Soares. Subs: Martin Marron, Adam Brown, Padraig Judge, Matthew Parker, Mike Withers (on for Mackle, 84 mins).