Bednarz on form as Portstewart bag away goal at Dollingstown
Portstewart goalkeeper Lukasz Bednarz took the plaudits in the Irish League's intermediate promotion play-off first leg, but his boss isn't so sure they have much of an advantage.
The 1-1 draw at Dollingstown's Planters Park gives the Seahawks an away goal but with defender John Neill dismissed for a second yellow in the second half, Portstewart manager Gary Taylor isn't sure who are favourites to get promoted to the Irish League ahead of next weekend's second leg.
"It all depends," he said. "We got the away goal but then we lost our centre-half who is a big player for us.
"We have a few guys who were unavailable coming back which will help but John has a lot of experience and is important for us in defence."
Dollingstown took an early lead through Jack Clarke and could have been further ahead at the break. However, strong saves from stopper Bednarz paved the way for an improved second half from the visitors, lively winger Ryan Doherty equalising in the second period.
"Lukasz made a few good saves to keep us in it," admitted Taylor. "They were shots from long range. We're happy with teams hitting them from there because it takes something special to beat Lukasz. The goal they scored went through a defender's legs so he didn't have much of a chance.
"We were able to attack them more in the second half. Ryan got a great goal - he was our biggest threat and scored after a nice exchange of passes and a good finish.
"It leaves the second leg as a one-off, winner takes all match. They will be thinking about all the chances they created and will be confident they can score but we know we can play better than that."
Dollingstown boss Stephen Uprichard, however, reckons Portstewart are in the driving seat as they head back up north to host next Saturday's second leg.
"I would say they will be favourites to go through now," he said. "The away goal means a lot. Dollingstown have been beaten like that before.
"They're strong at home and they don't give many chances away. We know it will be difficult but we have to go there in a positive mood.
"Their goalkeeper was very good but that's what he's there to do. We knew he was quality and he was in superb form.
"We're probably slightly disappointed but Portstewart are a very good side. We knew it was going to be a very difficult game and it proved to be just that. We're disappointed to concede the away goal but Ryan Doherty is a good player and you just have to take your hat off to him."
Next Saturday's second leg kicks off at Seahaven at 3pm.
Belfast Telegraph Digital