Kirkland finds the net but men fall short on the road

Stewart Kirkland (left).
Stewart Kirkland (left).

Stewart Kirkland’s strike offered little reward from the weekend road trip to Raphoe for Portadown men’s firsts.

The home side hit the net either side of Kirkland’s finish to hold the upper hand at the final whistle.

Early Premier League play proved even as both sets of players remained dedicated to attacking hockey - with Portadown pressing thanks to width and pace compared to the hosts’ direct approach.

Jamie Knipe produced a superb reaction save to protect the clean sheet.

Robbie Scott, Kirkland and Zach McClelland worked hard to create space but short corners offered the greatest opportunity for a goal.

Graeme Morrison had to be alert to clear the danger off the Portadown line but Raphoe produced a goal off a short corner following a defensive error.

Portadown sparked into a response with a rapid break capped by McClelland’s reverse-stick shot. The strike was blocked by the defender’s body but, despite appearing goalbound, the umpire opted for a short corner and the visitors struggled to capitalise.

Kirkland produced the finishing touch to Portadown’s seventh short corner of the afternoon to put the sides level.

Celebrations were cut short when Portadown pushed forward in search of a second goal and Raphoe took full advantage on the counter-attack to reclaim control.

Late pressure failed to provide a second equaliser for Portadown in the face of resolute Raphoe defending.

Portadown will attempt to bounce back tomorrow (Saturday) with the year’s final fixture.

Men’s teamsheets:

Firsts v North Down (Saturday, home, league, 2.30 start): J.Knipe, G.Titler, S.Bell, J.Rea, R.Scott, A.Stevenson, S.Kirkland, J.Brown, Z.McClelland, S.Johnson, M.Beattie, G.Croft, J.Curran, M.Winter, G.Morrison, M.Bennett.

Seconds v Instonians fourths (Friday, away, league, 7 o’clock start): Players to be confirmed.