Warrenpoint Town 0 Portadown 1
Warrenpoint Town manager Barry Gray knows his team must find a ruthless streak otherwise the second half of the season will be as disappointing as the first.
Not for the first time this term, the Milltown men created plenty of chances on Saturday but failed to take any of them.
When Adam Salley latched on to a header from Lee Bonis to net for Portadownon 68 minutes, it proved decisive with Matthew Tipton’s side moving into 10th place and five points clear of their opponents who are rooted to the bottom of the Premiership.
In 18 league games so far, Town have scored just 14 times. When you have conceded 44, that’s not going to cut it to keep you up.
At the weekend Thomas Maguire could have had a double and Greg Moorhouse went close. Even after Portadown’s Paul Finnegan was red carded for a foul on Luke Gallagher with 13 minutes left, Town couldn’t find a cutting edge.
Gray said: “We missed a bucketload of chances and you are standing on the line thinking this will come back to haunt us and that’s what happened with Portadown scoring and managing the game out.
“In the last couple of weeks, we have created opportunities and haven’t been ruthless enough.
“The frustration for us is that the balls were dropping inside the six yard box. These chances aren’t coming from 20 yards out. It is nearly harder to miss some of them but unfortunately for us we find a way to miss them.”
One uplifting note for Town, due to a number of first team absentees, was a composed first team debut for Academy teenager Niall Lennon on the left side.
Gray said: “Niall came in for the first time and did really well. That’s the positive we have to take. We found ourselves in a scenario where we had to offer him his debut at senior football and that’s great for him. It’s not great he was on the losing side but it was a small positive.”
Post match, Ports boss Matthew Tipton told other top flight clubs chasing striker Bonis, who was denied three times at Milltown by Town goalkeeper Conor Mitchell, to put up or shut up in terms of making an official offer. Linfield, Glentoran and Larne are all keen on the outstanding 22-year-old.
Tipton also revealed that goalscorer Salley suffered an ankle injury in the first-half but played through the pain barrier to make the difference before coming off after his important goal.
“It was a massive win for us and I think fully deserved. They had a couple of chances but we had more clear cut chances and more of the ball and when we went down to 10 men the boys showed the character that I know they have,” said Tipton.
“This game wasn’t about how well we played, it was making sure we left with three points and we did that.”
On the Bonis transfer speculation, he added: “Lee has a five-year contract with us and until clubs come with a proper written offer, he is not for sale.
“Why would I want to lose Lee Bonis? He is one of the best strikers in the league.
“I can ring other clubs and say I want their best player. It doesn’t mean I’m going to get them. I’m interested in Jay Donnelly, Conor McMenamin, Kirk Millar and Jimmy Callacher. That doesn’t mean anything. Am I going to sign them? I’m also interested in a holiday to Barbados to watch the cricket but I don’t think I’ll be getting there.”
WARRENPOINT: Mitchell, Dillon, O’Sullivan, Gallagher, Wade Slater, Moorhouse, Maguire (Shotayo, 87 mins), Hutchinson (Mullen, 52 mins), Leddy, Byrne, Lennon. Unused subs: Coleman, McCaffrey, Quinn, Haughey.
PORTADOWN: Barr, Hall, Ruddy, Finnegan, McKeown, Salley (Tipton, 70 mins), Bonis, Conaty (Lavery, 89 mins), S Teggart, McLeod, Jordan, Unused subs: Doherty, Warde, Glenfield, Murphy, E Teggart.
Referee: Jamie Robinson (Portadown)
Man of the match: Lee Bonis
Match rating: 7/10