Belfast Telegraph

Michael Gault eyes Portadown glory after Ballymena are brushed aside

Ballymena U 1- 3 Portadown

By David Mason

Michael Gault knows a thing or two about winning the Irish Cup!

The 31-year-old already has six winners' medals sitting proudly in his trophy cabinet from his glittering 15 year spell at Linfield, but he could well add to that collection come May 2.

Gault is about to be measured for yet another new suit for the end of season showcase clash against Glentoran in what us sure to be a tasty affair. He helped Portadown swat away the feeble challenge of Ballymena United in a totally one-sided semi-final at the Oval on Saturday night.

Ronnie McFall's boys had the game over as a contest after only 27 minutes. Goals from Mark McAllister, Gault and Peter McMahon had the Sky Blues on their knees.

Even though substitute Darren Boyce hit a second half consolation, it was purely a damage limitation exercise.

"It was an Irish Cup semi-final, so the most important thing was the result," revealed Gault. "We played brilliantly in the first half and had the job done after the first half hour.

"I don't think anyone would deny that we were the dominant team. Even when they got their goal, we were never really in any panic situations."

Gault insists he made the right decision by signing for the Ports after being dramatically shown the door at Windsor Park in the summer.

"I could have signed for a few clubs, but wanted to join a club which I thought was geared for success," he added. "So far, I've been proved right. In saying that, our league form has dipped a little bit of late, but this Irish Cup run makes up for that.

"We're now in the final, but we are determined to finish the job.

"I always enjoyed playing against Glentoran in my Linfield days, the Big Two matches were always special. I've quite a few good friends at the Glens.

"Many people think that Stephen McAlorum and I are big enemies, but we are the best of mates and we do quite a bit of socialising. He's a good lad."

United skipper Allan Jenkins had no complaints with the outcome, but stated this was one of his lowest moments in the game.

"It was a nightmare, but it happens too often at Ballymena," said the Scot. "Unfortunately, it's a situation we've experienced too many times. We chased the game in the last round against the Welders. With all due respect, you can perhaps get away with it against the likes of the Welders, but it never going to happen against Portadown.

"We are a long way off from where we need to be as a club. As a squad, we need to address that. We now have six league games remaining. We must try to finish the season in some sort of positive manner. To be honest, if we were to win the six of them, it would just be papering over the cracks.

"It's never nice to be booed off by your own fans, but they were in their right. We were out there representing the club, the fans and the town. Ultimately, we didn't perform and let everyone down.

"The bottom line is, we are just not good enough at this moment in time - and it's horrible to say that. That has been reflected over the course of the season. It's been an accumulation of performances of that ilk. There is a lot of soul searching needed at the football club to see where we go from here."

Ballymena: Nelson, Ervin, McNally, Taylor, McBride, Kane, Thompson, Jenkins, McCutcheon, Tipton, Cushley. Substitutions: Boyce (McCutcheon, 46 mins), Teggart (McNally, 59 mins)

Portadown: D Miskelly, Redman, O'Hara, Conaty, Breen, McMahon, Mackle, McAllister, Mouncey, Gault, Twigg. Substitutions: Murray (Twigg, 73 mins)

Man of the match: Michael Gault (pictured)

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor)

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