LINDEN CUP FINAL: Evans looking for trophy win to provide men with league boost

Portadown captain Johnny Brown showing off the Linden Cup. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Portadown captain Johnny Brown showing off the Linden Cup. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Portadown men’s head coach Mark Evans has highlighted the mix of old guard and fresh faces as key to pushing on from the firsts’ Linden Cup triumph.

Success on New Year’s Day against Raphoe provided Evans with a first trophy since taking over the Edenvilla Park seniors in the summer.

Portadown men's firsts enjoy the New Year's Day triumph against Raphoe following a thrilling Linden Cup final. Back row, from left, are Justin Barr, Stephen Johnston, Stewart Kirkland, Jamie Curran, Peter Quaile, Adam Stevenson, Geoff Edgar, Matthew Winter, Stuart Bell, Gareth Titler, Mark Evans (head coach). Front row, from left, are Gregory Croft, Matthew Beattie, Jaime Knipe, Johnny Brown, Zach McClelland, Dan McKimm. Pics by PressEye Ltd.

Portadown men's firsts enjoy the New Year's Day triumph against Raphoe following a thrilling Linden Cup final. Back row, from left, are Justin Barr, Stephen Johnston, Stewart Kirkland, Jamie Curran, Peter Quaile, Adam Stevenson, Geoff Edgar, Matthew Winter, Stuart Bell, Gareth Titler, Mark Evans (head coach). Front row, from left, are Gregory Croft, Matthew Beattie, Jaime Knipe, Johnny Brown, Zach McClelland, Dan McKimm. Pics by PressEye Ltd.

However, Evans has his sights set on long-term progress for the squad and is determined to transfer that trophy momentum into a league title push.

Portadown trail Senior One leaders South Antrim by five points ahead of the visit by third-place Campbellians tomorrow (Saturday) to town.

“The cup win has put in place a platform, now we must build on it,” said Evans. “The squad put in a superb performance on New Year’s Day to finish with a trophy.

“There was real character on show to get that win after going down to 10 men then winning the shoot-out.

“We had young players show real strength and the more experienced lads remain so reliable.

“The mental and physical strength on display got us over the line against Raphoe and now it is back to the league.

“Our focus changed from the league over the past few weeks due to the Christmas break and cup run but we must never lose sight of the end goal.”

Stephen Johnston and Adam Stevenson found the net in normal time to put Portadown clear against Raphoe. Success in the penalty shoot-out arrived for Gareth Titler, Dan McKimm, Stevenson and Geoff Edgar - with Jamie Knipe producing three superb saves.

“Players like Adam, Dan, Matthew Beattie, Zach McClelland, Peter Quaile and Jamie Curran have made excellent progress this season,” said Evans. “Then more experienced players like Gareth, Jamie, Geoff, Stewart Kirkland and Stuart Bell remain instrumental.

“Johnny Brown is a superb captain.”

Portadown face Campbellians at Edenvilla Park from 2.30.