Belfast Telegraph

Ports geared up for fresh start under Currie's lead

Ballymena Utd 2 Portadown 0

By Billy Weir

Portadown coach Trevor Williamson admits incoming boss Niall Currie faces an uphill battle to keep the club in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Currie will be unveiled as the new Shamrock Park supremo this evening and, with Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Ballymena United maintaining the 13-point deficit the Ports must make up to survive, Williamson believes the former Ards manager can have a settling impact.

"There's been a bit of turmoil for a while now but you've got to get on with it," said Williamson.

"He'll have a job on his hands, but if you get that stability that's a starting point.

"You don't quit, Leicester City won the league last year and nobody would have said that, so if that can happen when we can get out of where we are, you have to go with the belief that you can do that."

Saturday's contest was a tale of the forgotten men at the as two midfielders returned from the cold to help Ballymena finally break through the visitors' brave defence at The Showgrounds.

Fra McCaffrey grabbed the headlines with two goals in four minutes to signal an end to the horrendous start to his United career but, alongside him in midfield, Gavin Taggart also reappeared when it looked like his time in a sky blue shirt was over.

Taggart put in the yards to allow the likes of McCaffrey to break forward and he did that superbly to pounce on Alan Byrne's defensive slip in the 59th minute and then put a fitting flourish on a flowing move four minutes later to wrap things up.

Home boss David Jeffrey was delighted with the three points to move up to fourth in the table but it was the return of McCaffrey that gave him even greater satisfaction.

"He has had a torrid time, he's basically had injury after injury and that was the reason why he ultimately left Glentoran because the season prior to that he'd scored 13 goals from the middle of the park," he said.

"We talk about giving people an opportunity and we said, 'Fra come here and see how you go' and he's had an awful time but came back into the group last week and we started him and his contribution was first class.

"He doesn't have 90 minutes in his legs yet so that's why we took him off but I'm pleased for the club, supporters and players but if there's anyone I'm really delighted for it's Francis."

As for Taggart, he has barely figured in Jeffrey's tenure, but the door that looked to be closing may now be allowing a chink of light in.

"He merited his opportunity. The last time he performed he was sent off and had a six-game ban, then he had a couple of injuries and then was involved in a car accident," Jeffrey explained.

"But it's like everybody as we tell them, 'keep making a contribution' and over this last fortnight I've said, 'reflect on what you've done thus far because we're coming up to Christmas and the transfer window, so reflect on what you've done if you want to be on the bus after Christmas'.

"That's not a threat, it's the simple reality and we've challenged them and, to be fair, Gavin came in and did very well."

BALLYMENA: Glendinning, Kane, McCracken, Owens, Ervin, Faulkner, Taggart, Millar, Friel, Jenkins, McCaffrey (Lowry, 78 mins (Shevlin, 82 mins)). Unused subs: McCauley, Mackie, Loughran.

PORTADOWN: McGaughey, Shannon, O'Hara, Byrne, Breen, Garrett, Carson, Wilson (Ferris, 62 mins), Hughes, Haire (Wilson, 86 mins), Mouncey (Simpson, 73 mins). Unused subs: Parker, Kirwan.

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)

Man of the match: Fra McCaffrey

Match rating: 5/10

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