| 4.9°C Belfast

Portadown 2 Ballinamallard United 1

At the start of the season Mallards’ manager Whitey Anderson insisted that survival in the Irish League Premiership was the name of the game — now he has hinted at a top six finish, despite Saturday’s reversal.

“We’re still second in the table, and we could quite easily have gained at least a point from Shamrock Park,” he insisted.

“True, they hit us hard, scoring two goals early in the second half, but we pulled one back on the 66th minute (Andy Crawford) and had them on the back foot in the last 15 minutes.”

A top six finish? “Wait and see,” he responded. “But we’re doing better than anyone — including ourselves — expected.

“Portadown is always a tough place to visit and we gave them a real run for their money. A draw would have been a fairer result.”

The afternoon, though, belonged to Portadown’s Mark Patton.

The close-season signing has been dogged with an injury or two and hasn’t played to his full potential. But all that changed during the Ports’ golden patch after the interval — and after a poor first half that reflected the nil-nil interval scoreline.

Patton scored the first goal and laid on the second for the industrious Sean Mackle, with both goals being scored from almost the same spot — about three yards out — and both the result of sublime approach work.

Patton explained: “Darren Murray set mine up when he made a great run up the left and delivered it perfectly for me to thump home.

“That really boosted my confidence and I was about to have a pop for the second, when I saw Sean at the far post and set it on the spot for him.”

Portadown then had to re-organise at the back when Gary Breen went off injured and before they settled, Crawford scored.

Said Ports manager Ronnie McFall: “We deserved the points. In fact, we set up three or four chances which we didn’t take and made it tougher.”

Belfast Telegraph