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Afternoon to forget at Shamrock

Portadown 0 Ballymena United 0

By Victor Gordon

If ever there was a harbinger of the approaching end of the football season, this dull, dour match at Shamrock Park was it.

Portadown were a long shot for the top six, but must have had the pending Irish Cup semi-final on their mind, while Ballymena went defensive, with the recent 7-0 drubbing by Glenavon still causing nightmares.

The first half was a write-off, the only talking point being the hail squalls that swept down from above. True, Portadown rattled the frame of the goal twice – Joe McNeill and Mark Patton being out of luck – but a Tony Kane 25-yard shot also scraped the crossbar at the other end.

United boss Glen Ferguson pointed out that his troops hadn't conceded a goal since the Glenavon debacle. But neither have they scored in those encounters, and the priority as the season fades out must be consistency.

Ports manager Ronnie McFall commented: "They played very defensively with 4-5-1, and while we broke them down we missed several chances. But it has to be said that the poor state of the pitch didn't help either side find the net – the pitch is an embarrassment."

The result means that Portadown have to catch up six points on Ballinamallard to creep into the top six, notwithstanding that the Mallards have a 12-goal advantage on the Ports. Not impossible, but highly improbable, with the split imminent.

Still, there's always that cup to consider, even if the league is long since gone.

Belfast Telegraph

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