Portadown 1 Donegal Celtic 0
Portadown fans had to wait two frustrating months before newly-signed striker Gary Twigg was eligible to play — but they didn’t have to wait beyond his debut for a superb winner.
And the ex-Shamrock Rovers star warned of even better things to come.
“It’s great to hit the winner and gain three vital points in our quest for the top six,” said Twigg.
“But I’m not fully match fit, it’ll take four or five games to achieve that. I’ve trained hard for the past four weeks, but match fitness only comes with competitive football.
“I’m confident this is just the start of it, and we’ll break into the top six, with our main competition (Coleraine and Ballinamallard) both beaten today. I found it tough in the last 20 minutes, but full fitness will come.”
Twigg’s superb 50th minute header was, in fact, his only chance — a half-chance, really — during the 90 minutes. Chris Casement sent in a ball from the right, Twigg raced to the near post and it arched into the roof of the net, giving keeper John Connolly no chance.
Manager Ronnie McFall said: “It was a superb piece of opportunism, a real predator’s goal. Our midfield was off-colour today — although the heavy pitch didn’t help them — and the goal was the only chance set up for Gary. He’s mad keen, and that sort of goal is what we bought him for.”
Twigg’s goal was one of just two highlights in a dreary match, the other one being a marvellous save by Connolly from a Tim Mouncey header just after the hour — although there was a moment of mirth at the other end when a 20-yard shot Paul Bradley shanked off his right foot and literally hit the corner flag and stayed in play.
Little of any consequence happened in the first-half, although DC rallied towards the end of the game and gave the Ports’ back four something to think about. But Chris Ramsey and Brian Gartland, in the centre of things, were rock-solid.
Celtic manager Pat McAllister was up-beat, despite the defeat.
“We gave a good account of ourselves against a Portadown team that’s always hard to beat,” he said. “Our defence was superb and it took a piece of magic from Gary Twigg to beat us.
“We dominated in midfield, with Conor Downey pulling the strings.
“We may be one-from-bottom, but I take real encouragement from this performance. I’m confident we’ll stay up in the Premiership this term and consolidate next season.
“We had our problems at the start of the season and these have been ironed out, so we’re concentrating on matters on the field.”