Belfast Telegraph

Cheesy does it for Ron

By Victor Gordon

Portadown manager Ronnie McFall make not be renowned for his cheesy grins, but his pre-match frown was transformed into a broad smile after his team's cracking victory.

The problem was that the cheese firm in Scotland where ace striker Gary McCutcheon works wouldn't let the leading scorer off work for the game.

"I tried to persuade them to give Gary the day off, but no dice," said McFall, whose spirits were not improved when the Ports trailed 0-2 with 20 minutes to go - "Due to rank poor defending," to quote the manager.

"They showed great character and fight to turn it round," he beamed afterwards.

"We seemed to be down and out, but my players fought like tigers and refused to be beaten."

All the action was in the second half. Newry went ahead on 55 minutes when Paul Prigent turned in a Kevin Keegan cross from the right.

Richard Clarke added the second eight minutes later, after Lee Feeney powered through the weak Ports defending, to lash home hard and low.

The three Portadown goals came in an eight-minute burst, with Kevin Braniff starting the sequence on 71 minutes when he headed home a Richard Clarke cross from the left - a super effort from 12 yards.

Then, a combination of Braniff and Johnny Topley left 17-year-old Aaron Haire a simple tap-in, with the teenager showing mature positional sense.

And the winner came on 79 minutes with all-action Andy Smith on target when he ran onto a perfect Topley pass and slid the ball past the advancing Robert Robinson.

"It was a great fight-back and my pleasure to seal it," said the ex-international.

Newry boss Gerry Flynn said: "That should have been game, set and match. We were playing Portadown off the park, but when they hit their first goal, my players froze.

"They stopped playing the passing game that had Portadown on the rack and simply gave them the points."

The Ports now travel to Glenavon on Boxing Day, without having lost a festive derby to their local rivals since 1996 while Newry face Armagh City.

Belfast Telegraph


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