Belfast Telegraph

Draw at Portadown step in right direction insists Warrenpoint boss Barry Gray

By Victor Gordon

Frank finishing, a moment of trance-like defending and a spirited showing by Warrenpoint Town denied Portadown a victory which many thought they would claim at a canter.

For this was title challengers versus relegation candidates and it wasn't until 85 minutes – when Town were down to 10 men and the Ports had brought on super-sub Gary Twigg – that the home side squeezed a point.

Visiting boss Barry Gray hit the headlines during the week by claiming that if his side didn't improve, he might be taking the exit door from Milltown.

He wasn't saying afterwards whether it was a bit of bluff, a spot of reverse psychology, but he did say: "It worked. This was much better. We have recorded draws with teams like Cliftonville and Portadown, but one victory in 10 outings (Dungannon Swifts) simply isn't good enough.

"We played with more spirit and determination against Portadown and it was a step in the right direction. I won't be packing my bags just yet!"

Ports manager Ronnie McFall said: "We should have hit five or six in the first-half. But it shows that anyone can grab the points in this league. It's the tightest I can remember."

The fact that just one point separates the top five, and the Ports trail leaders Crusaders on goals scored, proves the point. And 19-year-old Town keeper Martin Marron must be given loads of credit for his first-class performance.

Portadown's Ross Redman, Darren Murray and Mark McAllister were the main off-target marksmen in that give-away first-half. Warrenpoint took full advantage of that – and of sleepy defending – when Stephen McCabe and Johnny Breen netted within 60 seconds of one another.

Right on half-time, McAllister atoned for previous poor shooting when he got his head to a Chris Casement corner in a mad goal-line scramble to make it 2-1.

The Ports dominated after the interval, but determined Warrenpoint held firm until that double change – the dismissal of Bagnall after one of those unsavoury confrontations when virtually all 22 players pile in, and the introduction of Twigg.

After the Scot drew a superb save from Marron, he finally punctured the rearguard five minutes from time when he popped up at the far post to flick home Murray's throw-in, which should have been cleared.

Belfast Telegraph


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