Ballinamallard deny forcing grieving Portadown to play after Jerry Thompson death
Ballinamallard United have denied that Saturday's Bluefin Sport Championship clash with Portadown went ahead because they refused to postpone it.
The Shamrock Park club was plunged into grief following the death of former player Jerry Thompson earlier in the week. As well as being a team mate last season, others who only joined the Ports in the summer had previously played with the popular Thompson at other clubs and were personal friends.
In his post-match comments manager Matthew Tipton said: "We had boys in tears in there. We didn't want to play the game, everybody knows that."
Portadown players also stated on social media that they had 'wanted the game off' and that the 'game should never had been played today after burying a friend and a former team mate'.
Other social media comments by Portadown players and directors criticising Ballinamallard have since been taken down.
The Mallards released a statement, with one line in particular highlighted, which said: "At no stage did Ballinamallard United refuse to postpone the game to a later date."
The Belfast Telegraph gave Portadown the opportunity to respond officially but the club declined the invite.
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The match was delayed to a 5pm kick-off to allow Portadown players and management to attend Jerry Thompson's funeral and the Mallards cut the Ports' lead at the top to three points with a 4-2 win.
After the hosts went 2-0 up through Sean McEvoy and Richard Clarke, two George Tipton corners led to Paul Finnegan and then Aaron Duke netting for the Ports.
Chris Kelly edged the Mallards back in front almost immediately before Ryan Campbell made sure of the points.
Third-placed Loughgall suffered a third defeat in five games when Davy Magee's late strike earned Queen's University a 1-0 win, while Scott McMillan set new Ards boss John Bailie on the way to victory over Dundela at Wilgar Park, where Michael McLellan netted twice for the visitors.
Gary Smyth's first game back in charge of Harland & Wolff Welders ended in a 3-2 defeat by Knockbreda and, at The Dub, Ballyclare Comrades were the biggest scorers of the day, hitting PSNI - who lost manager Sammy McFadden during the week - for six.
CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS: Ballinamallard Utd 4 Portadown 2; Dundela 0 Ards 3; H&W Welders 2 Knockbreda 3; Loughgall 0 Queen's 1; PSNI 2 Ballyclare 6.