Portadown 2 Linfield 0: Portadown’s brave Welsh dragon of a striker Matthew Tipton is truly on fire these days — and ‘two’ is his favourite number right now.
For with two goals in each of the last two matches — against Belfast’s Big Two — the bullseye marksman has shot the Ports up to the number two spot in the league, level on points with the Blues and with just a single goal’s difference separating them.
And his second goal, which killed off this game, came just two minutes from time — a real dream of a strike when he collected a Kevin Braniff header and brilliantly lobbed Blues keeper Alan Blayney to send the Ports fans home in raptures.
His first was a penalty score on 60 minutes, which referee Raymond Crangle awarded after centre-back Albert Watson fouled his opposite number Brian Gartland.
Linfield manager David Jeffrey had no complaints about that decision, but he was furious over the two claims from Linfield that the whistler ignored in the first-half, with a trip on Rory Patterson the more blatant of the two.
“They were both stonewall penalties — I’ve viewed the TV recordings — and that had a profound effect of the outcome of this match,” Jeffrey insisted.
“That’s no disrespect to Portadown. They’re a strong side throughout and they’re in with a real chance of the league. The signings that Ronnie McFall made in the January window last year are now bearing fruit. But overall, I thought we deserved something from the game — a draw would have been a fair result over the 90 minutes.”
Big Ron, though, disagreed. “You have to take these decisions on the chin,” he said.
“But I thought we deserved the points, judging the match overall, especially in the second-half. We’ve taken all 15 points from our five home matches and were unfortunate with last-gasp goals against us in our two away defeats.
“This side is full of determination and talent. We shaded Linfield on work rate today — especially in midfield where Shane McCabe and Neil McCafferty were superb. And Matthew Tipton really is the league’s form striker. His second goal was superb.”
It was a fast, exciting game that lived up to its top-of-the-table billing. It was just seven minutes old when Ports’ keeper David Miskelly pulled off a smart stop from Rory Patterson and then home hero Tipton totally mis-kicked the easiest change of the afternoon after being set up by Ross Redman.
Patterson was then right out of luck when he whipped a great shot past Miskelly and under-21 international centre-half Chris Ramsay scrambled it off the line.
The Ports stepped up a gear after the re-start, with both goals coming in that period, but Linfield also had two definite chances, with Peter Thompson and Aaron Burns both off the mark with their efforts.
Portadown’s victory was tainted when McCabe was sent off in the last minute when he received a second yellow card for kicking the ball away and he’ll now miss tomorrow night’s Irn Bru League Cup tie with Warrenpoint Town.
And as for Tipton, he was not available for comment after the game. As his team mates did their winding-down exercises on the pitch, he was off to catch a plane.