Belfast Telegraph

Portadown carry on cruising while Coleraine fall

By Victor Gordon

Portadown 2 Coleraine 0: There are, according to the old cliche, lies, damned lies and statistics. But the statistics told a stark truth after this wind-blown match at Shamrock Park.

For they showed that Coleraine have lost their last six matches on the spin, haven't kept a clean sheet in their last 28 outings and are just two points above the relegation zone.

The Ports, on the other hand, have banked 13 points from their last five games, haven't conceded a goal in the last three and have leap-frogged back into the top four.

Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney, recipient of the dreaded vote-of-confidence last week, was putting a brave face on things.

"I admit the first three defeats in our current run were nothing to be proud of," he commented.

"The spirit in the dressing room was wrong, the desire seemed to have gone. But it's turning round.

"Last week's 3-2 defeat by Linfield was desperately unlucky. We more than matched them and they scored the winner in added-on time. And if David Ogilby's header had gone in, instead of shaving the post, this (Last Saturday's game) would have been a different match.

"Both their goals can be traced back to poor defending and that will have to be sorted out."

Portadown, with the wind at their backs, led 2-0 at the break, courtesy of goals by central defender Chris Ramsey and striker Gary Twigg. Ramsey's goal – his first of the season – was a superb header from a Chris Casement corner, although he was virtually unchallenged as he rose to power it home.

Twigg also pounced on a defensive mistake. Steven Douglas failed to cut out an up-field punt from Ports keeper David Miskelly, and in nipped Dangerman Twigg to clip the ball sublimely over the advancing Wayne Drummond.

Coleraine didn't have the best of luck in the second half, when the following wind slackened towards the end. The main barriers to their efforts were the centre-back duo of Ramsey and Keith O'Hara, playing his first full match of the season as he fought back from a broken metatarsal, and the wonderful form of keeper Miskelly.

He brought off a succession of super saves – from Eoin Bradley, Gareth Tommons, Stephen Carson and Joel Bradley, who also thumped the underside of the crossbar with virtually the last kick of the match.

Manager Ronnie McFall said: "Our current run is thanks to a much-improved spirit in the dressing room and a new determination.

"We're playing really well as a team, and we're in the mix when the real race for the league starts in the New Year.

"Hopefully we'll keep our run going at Windsor Park next week – we're not looking beyond that."

PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Casement, O'Hara, Ramsey, Mackle (McCafferty, 90 mins), Murray, Mouncey, McStay, Murray, Twigg, Barton (McMahon, 67 mins). Unused subs: Brennan, Rooney, Paget.

COLERAINE: Drummond, McIlmoyle, Hegarty, Douglas, Ogilby, Owens (Carson, 76 mins), Harkin, Canning, E Bradley, Tommons (J Bradley, 79 mins), Moore (Jennings, 46 mins). Unused subs: Watt, McMullan.

Referee: Mervyn Smyth ( Belfast).

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