Belfast Telegraph

Currie not in any big rush towards panic button

By Victor Gordon

Portadown 2 Ards 0: Promoted Ards are struggling to adapt to the rigours of the Premiership – but manager Niall Currie insists they learned a valuable lesson in finishing from Portadown's super Scot Gary Twigg.

Two smash-and-grab scores from the ex-Shamrock Rovers striker were a master class to the visitors on finding the net – even though they had among their ranks the three top scorers as they strolled the lower league last season.

"It's a different story up here," said Currie, whose side is wedged pointless at the bottom. "But we aren't panicking. It's very early days and we're confident we'll pick up the points soon. It's a steep learning curve. This was a 50-50 game in possession and we could have shared the points."

The point was, though, that Ards had nobody anywhere near the calibre of Twigg, who had three chances and put away two of them.

The first was a sumptuous near-post header on 38 minutes when he left the defence for dead and thundered home a Chris Casement cross.

And the clincher was on 83 minutes when he ran onto pin-point pass from Peter McMahon, rounded keeper Graeme McKibbin and swept home with consummate ease, giving him a goal-a-match average at these early stages.

"It really improves our start to the league," said Twigg. "Draws with Linfield and Coleraine were very acceptable, but we had to win this one. A positive start to the league is essential and we're going well despite a number of injuries. If we can get our best 11 on the field each week, without too many injuries and suspensions, we'll be challenging at the end. We have a small squad."

Ards were extremely poor in a rather ragged first-half which didn't come to life until 35 minutes when Darren Murray hit the post with a glancing header.

That was the signal for an onslaught which climaxed with the Twigg classic.

Portadown seemed well on their way, but it was all-change when Currie introduced young substitute Scott Davidson to the fray after the break. He kept the Ports rearguard – with Garry Breen outstanding – on its toes.

Against that, Ports' industrious front man Murray bustled clear and had only McKibbin to beat, but he didn't have the Twigg coolness and shot weakly into the keeper's arms, before the on-target Scot sealed it.

Said home boss Ronnie McFall: "It was a very satisfying afternoon. When we have a full squad, we're as good as anyone in the league."

PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Casement, Ramsey, Breen, McMahon, Murray, Braniff, Twigg , Friars , McCafferty, Black (McConnell, 90 mins). Unused subs: Brennan, Okunaiya, Rooney, Paget.

Scorers: Twigg (47 & 83 mins)

ARDS: McKibbin, Hall, Spence, Armstrong, K McDowell, Smith (Gordon, 71 mins), Faulkner, Roy (Davidson, 46 mins), P McDowell, Henderson, Arthurs. Unused subs: Gibson, Cully, Moffatt.

Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus).

Belfast Telegraph

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