Belfast Telegraph

Billy Brennan saves all three points for Portadown

By Keith Thomas

Goalkeeper Billy Brennan's super second half show at Coleraine secured Portadown's first win in four games and helped keep Ronnie McFall's "outsiders" in the Danske Bank Premiership title chase.

Mark McAllister's 12th goal of the season leaves the Ports just three points behind league leaders Linfield as they extended their unbeaten run at The Showgrounds to six games.

But after McAllister's header, on the stroke of half-time, the visitors failed to push on and only some smart keeping by stand-in Brennan saved the day for McFall's men, who move ahead of champions Cliftonville into third place in the table.

McAllister admitted the result was all down to the brilliance of Brennan, who played only because regular number one David Miskelly was suspended after his dismissal in the Boxing Day draw with Mid-Ulster rivals Glenavon.

McAllister said: "We made it difficult for ourselves. We let Coleraine come at us in the second half when we should have been consolidating our lead.

"We didn't play well in the second half but Billy was superb and only for him we could have come out of the game with nothing."

As for talk of winning the Gibson Cup, McAllister said: "We are outsiders. We have moved above Cliftonville but you can't write them off. That would be nonsense.

"Our aim is European football and if we achieve anything more then that's a bonus."

Coleraine have now managed only a single point from the last three games but manager Oran Kearney felt his team's latest performance merited at least a share of the spoils.

"We worked hard and created enough chances to at least level it but our finishing let us down," he said.

After seeing a number of chances come and go, Portadown eventually broke the deadlock when Chris Casement threaded over the cross and McAllister threw himself forward to convert a header from less than six yards out.

The away side wilted after the interval and Brennan was forced into a double save to deny Ian Parkhill a 53rd minute equaliser and the striker sent a third chance over the top before seeing a header easily gathered less than a minute later.

Coleraine now had their tails up and Parkhill chased down Chris Ramsey's poor clearance before finding McNeill with a cheeky back heel, but the midfielder skied his shot.

Before the end, defender Steven Douglas almost embarrassed Brennan with a speculative long range free from just inside the Coleraine half - but the former Lisburn Distillery keeper scrambled back to finger tip the ball over the top.

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