While Portadown’s 6-0 defeat at the hands of Croatian outfit NK Slaven Belupo Koprivnica is unlikely to go down as a great night in the club’s history, young goalkeeper Jaime McArdle had an experience he will never forget.
The 19 year old who was signed in the summer from Mid-Ulster League side Tandragee Rovers, may have let in six goals, but he made a number of key saves that stopped Slaven Belupo from running up a cricket score.
Portadown manager Ronnie McFall even singled out McArdle for praise after the match, which was something that meant a lot to the Banbridge teenager.
“For Ronnie to say that I was one of our best players is just unbelievable — it’s given me a fantastic confidence boost,” he said.
McArdle was drafted in when regular goalkeeper David Miskelly was unable to get the time off work.
“When I was told I was going to be playing in Croatia, I couldn’t believe it. Making my debut in a big European game was an unbelievable experience, even if we didn’t get the result we wanted.
“Not too many 19 year old goalkeepers can say they’ve played a match in Europe.”
McArdle wasn’t pleased about letting in six goals, but he was happy with his overall display.
“There isn’t a goalkeeper in the world that would be happy with letting in six goals, but I really don’t think I could have done anything to stop them. I was happy enough because I made several saves that kept the score down. I took plenty of positives from the experience.”
Miskelly is likely to return for tonight’s second leg at Shamrock Park, but McArdle will be there to cheer on his team-mates and he believes that they can give a better account of themselves at home.
“The second leg will be a different game because we struggled with the heat out in Croatia,” he said.
Tonight’s match starts at 7.45pm with under 16s admitted free if they are with a paying adult.