Ports go down to third consecutive loss

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PORTADOWN displayed improved fight today at Windsor Park but the final whistle left Ronnie McFall’s men with a third consecutive defeat.

Of greater concern - approaching the Irish Cup quarter-final trip to Coleraine - will be the scoring statistics.

Portadown have now gone three Danske Bank Premiership games without scoring and the 2-0 reverse by Linfield marked a third blank in eight days.

The biggest disappointment to come from the Belfast blues may prove the sight of Gary Twigg limping off injured as Portadown now attempt to regroup and prepare for the biggest match of the season.

Linfield finished with full points courtesy of goals by Michael Gault and Mark McAllister - both scrappy but both, ultimately, decisive.

Keith O’Hara was handed a return to the starting line-up following months out with groin trouble. The captain almost celebrated his comeback by heading Portadown into the lead but his effort from Ross Redman ‘s corner-kick was blocked on the line.

O’Hara then scrambled off his own line - with help from David Miskelly - and the Ports goalkeeper proved alert to save Gault’s header from the resultant corner-kick.

Aaron Burns managed to engineer a shooting opportunity thanks to a combination of skill and luck but the move ended when he attempted to cut in on to his left and the space was blocked.

Linfield took the lead in the closing seconds of the half when Gault directed home a loose ball after a deflected free-kick and miscue.

Portadown pressed hard during the early stages of the second half but could only carve out a looping Kevin Braniff header as anything of note on goal.

Miskelly managed to claw out a dangerous Ross Clarke cross then push away an angled drive by the Linfield attacker.

However, Linfield looked stronger as play progressed and scored a second when Portadown-born McAllister gained the final touch on a corner-kick.

LINFIELD: Ross Glendinning, David Armstrong, Michael Gault, William Murphy, Michael Carvill, Billy-Joe Burns, Robert Garrett, Jim Ervin, Jamie Mulgrew, Mark McAllister, Ross Clarke. Subs: Stephen Douglas, Peter Thompson (on for Clarke, 58 mins), Nathan Hanley, Gary Browne, Conor McMenamin.

PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Ross Redman, Keith O’Hara, Chris Ramsey, Aaron Burns, Kevin Braniff, Chris Casement, Brian Gartland, Neil McCafferty, Mark Patton, Gary Twigg. Subs: Darren Murray (on for Twigg, 7 mins), Joe McNeill (on for Murray, 84 mins), Jamie McArdle, Richard Lecky (on for Patton, 65 mins), Andrew Burns.

Referee: Raymond Crangle