Night to forget highlights Ports’ problems

A red card for Darren Murray added to Portadown's problems on Friday. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
A red card for Darren Murray added to Portadown's problems on Friday. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Not even five goals would have saved Portadown on Friday night against a ruthless Crusaders side.

The Ports arrived in Belfast aiming to close the gap in second place from four points but left with a title challenge decimated by a 6-0 defeat to the league leaders.

If outside observers celebrated the Ports’ previous Danske Bank Premiership game - a 5-5 draw with Ballymena United - as evidence of the Irish League’s entertainment value, many fans felt it instead highlighted the defensive issues.

The final three goals conceded against Ballymena at Shamrock Park arrived inside eight minutes. Crusaders scored the same number within six minutes as Portadown failed to deal with the aerial threat during a Seaview horror show.

Jordan Owens scored two before Paul Heatley’s glancing header. Owens’ hat-trick finish kicked off the second-half scoring that included a Diarmuid O’Carroll penalty before the superb Heatley slotted home number six.

Darren Murray’s red card on 22 minutes added insult to injury as another black mark to the Ports’ alarming disciplinary record.

In a season of twists and turns, emotion keeps alive hope that Friday’s result may not prove the final blow to a title challenge. However, logic dictates that a side having conceded 11 goals in two games cannot grind out the ugly wins so vital to any league bid.

The greatest concern remains how little invention or creativity sides require at present to score against Portadown.

PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Ross Redman, Chris Ramsey, Garry Breen, Peter McMahon, Sean Mackle, Darren Murray, Mark McAllister, Paul McElroy, Michael Gault, Robert Garrett. Subs: Billy Brennan, Tim Mouncey (on for McMahon, 46 mins), Gary Twigg (on for McElroy, 46 mins), Shea Conaty (on for McAllister, 63 mins), Jake Richardson.