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Matthew Tipton blasts decision to call Portadown match off over 'perfectly fine' Shamrock Park pitch

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Matthew Tipton

Matthew Tipton

�INPHO/Matt Mackey

Matthew Tipton

Angry Portadown manager Matthew Tipton has blasted the decision to postpone his team's Danske Bank Premiership clash with Dungannon Swifts, claiming that small areas of the pitch deemed unplayable could have been fixed by kick-off time.

The enraged Ports boss was stunned when he was told that the match was off due to one particular corner of the Shamrock Park surface being muddy and insisted that making the call at 1pm was premature.

After an initial inspection was carried out by match referee Christopher Morrison at 11am, a second check was scheduled for 1.15pm and that was when another official, Gareth Eakin, who was down to be one of Morrison's assistants, deemed the pitch unplayable.

Tipton also pointed to a match almost exactly 12 months ago that went ahead on a surface in worse condition. On that occasion, when the Ports faced Queen's University in a Championship clash, striker Adam Salley gained notoriety for having celebrations cut short as his goal-bound shot got stuck in a muddy goalmouth.

"The pitch is perfectly fine," blasted Tipton.

"We played last season against Queen's and we were knee deep in mud and played on - and that was most of the pitch.

"We're talking about one corner and, although it was muddy, the ball could bounce and roll in it. The rest of the pitch is perfectly fine. There is no way the game should have been called off and I will never be convinced otherwise.

"If the corner was muddy, we could have given it an hour or so for the wind to dry it out.

"Everyone was at the ground so what's the worst that would have happened? The worst that would have happened is I'd have said, 'Well, at least we gave it a chance' and if it wasn't fit at three o'clock there'd have been no complaints from me.

"You've 18 players from both teams waiting to play. Give it a go."

Earlier this month, Warrenpoint Town's home game with Carrick Rangers was postponed less than an hour before kick-off despite passing an earlier inspection.

On that occasion, the team sheets had been released and players were preparing to go out for their warm-up when it was decided the pitch was unplayable.

Tipton would have preferred that scenario instead of being denied the opportunity to make the pitch fit for play, with last week's home game against Cliftonville - when kick-off was delayed by two hours to allow snow to be cleared from the pitch - an example of what can be done if the will is there.

"It might be looked at as embarrassing if you've got players changed and ready to play and the match gets called off, but in all my years in football I'd much prefer to give it a go than call it off and not know," said Tipton.

"There was no rain as I was driving to Portadown, so the pitch wasn't going to get any worse.

"The one thing I was complaining about was the wind and that it would spoil the game, but that doesn't matter when I'm told the pitch is unplayable."

When Warrenpoint's pitch was again deemed unplayable yesterday, a swift attempt was made to switch their game with Glentoran to The Oval only for it, too, to fail an inspection.

Keen to get the game played rather than lose a match day in an already packed season, Dungannon made the same offer to Portadown, with the Stangmore Park fixture set for March 20 reversed, but that suggestion was knocked back by Tipton.

Tuesday, April 13 has been pencilled in as the new date for the game, but it is likely that the free date of Saturday, March 13, which had been set aside for Irish Cup Quarter-Finals, will now be used instead.

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