If Portadown had shown the same discipline in the madcap first-half of this thriller as they did after the break, then Glentoran — despite all their off-field woes — would not be occupying third spot in the Danske Irish League table.
PORTS THROW IT ALL AWAY
managers agree sendings-off handed Glens fortunate win Red Mist: Darren Murray is sent off to leave Portadown with just nine men |presseye
Two insane incidents cost the Ports two players and three points, when Gary Breen appeared to head-butt Jay Magee after nine minutes and when two-goal hero Darren Murray tangled with Magee just before the break.
Glens boss Eddie Patterson admitted: “Indiscipline cost them the match. They were the better side in the first-half, even though they played most of it with 10 men. And we had all sorts of trouble trying to break them down after the interval.”
In fact, it wasn’t until the 83rd minute that Glentoran carved out an equaliser — a thumping Mark Clarke header from a Stephen Carson corner-kick. And by then, Portadown’s Magnificent Nine — with Chris Ramsey and Tim Mouncey superb in the centre of defence — had run themselves almost to a standstill.
Said Patterson: “I told my team at half-time to move the ball around quickly and get an early breakthrough, but they failed to do that. Portadown could have stolen it. I was not impressed, but we are piling up the points well and are in third place, despite all the distractions at the Oval.”
The three first-half scores were all classics. Murray opened the Ports’ account on the half-hour when he finished off a wonderful five-man move, pouncing on a dream pass from Kevin Braniff and rounding a defender to pop home from close-in.
Ten minutes later he stole in at the near post to convert a pin-point cross from Ross Redman, and it seemed the Ports were on their way. But then came a double blow a few minutes from half-time.
First, Andrew Waterworth pulled a wonder goal back when he turned the defence at the edge of the ‘box’ and swiveled to drive home from 18 yards into the top corner. Then, the red mist descended on Murray, followed by the red card, and Portadown faced the second-half two men short.
Manager Ronnie McFall said: “There was absolutely no excuse for this indiscipline. Not only did it cost us the match, but suspensions will follow and we can’t afford that with our small squad and the league race hotting up.
“The Breen incident was especially stupid, and while I'm not excusing Murray, he was fouled before he reacted and the linesman failed to spot it. We should have had a free-kick.
“I have to say, though, that the nine men held out brilliantly, and our keeper David Miskelly was impeded when they equalised.
“They also got a penalty in the late surge and it was never a penalty. Their player went down very easily — the ref seemed to ignore it, but the linesman gave it. Our players were rightly furious after the way they had performed.”
The Clarke equaliser opened the floodgates and, after Magee slammed home the spot-kick, Carl McComb poked home the fourth.