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Portadown were "scared" by Oval task, admits frustrated Tipton as Glentoran hold on to triumph

 

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Portadown's Oisin Conaty and Glentoran's Gael Bigirimana clash for possession (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

Portadown's Oisin Conaty and Glentoran's Gael Bigirimana clash for possession (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

PMAKER

Portadown's Oisin Conaty and Glentoran's Gael Bigirimana clash for possession (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

Portadown boss Matthew Tipton believes his boys suffered a bout of stage fright at The Oval last night.

The visitors were staring down the barrel of a tanking having conceded two goals in the opening 12 minutes, courtesy of Paddy McClean and Jay Donnelly.

Under the cosh for the entire first half, the Ports rode their luck, mainly through some smart goalkeeping from Ben Pierce and inexplicable wayward finishing from Mick McDermott's team.

Whatever Tipton said to his troops during the half-time cuppa had the desired effect.

When substitute Adam Salley reduced the deficit 10 minutes from the end, it was the east Belfast side that craved the final blast of Tim Marshall's whistle.

"We started slowly, I think it was a case of stage fright," admitted Tipton. "I don't want to use the word naivety because that would be unfair on the boys.

"But we were a little bit like a rabbit in the headlights for the first 20 minutes or so. It was probably a little bit of inexperience at this level.

"We came here last year in the Irish Cup and had a rattle. We were a Championship side and had nothing to lose as such.

"But we were shoulder to shoulder with Glentoran in the League table going into the game. And, for the first 25 minutes, we stood off them too much, probably showed them too much respect.

"However, we grew into the game and we came out for the second half and had a go. I can only ask them to do their best and I thought they did that after the interval."

It was embarrassingly easy for McDermott's boys early on. They required merely eight minutes to forge ahead. Hrvoje Plum whipped in a free-kick which was met by McClean and his effort looped over stranded Pierce.

And they struck again four minutes later. The dangerous Plum picked up a throw-in from new boy Rhys Marshall and rolled Ben Tilney on the byline before sending in a thunderous low cross that Pierce could only parry into the path of Donnelly, who made no mistake.

Pierce did well to beat away another blockbuster from Plum before Donnelly twice went close to claiming his second of the night ahead of Pierce denying Luke McCullough.

Portadown should have been back in the game on 53 minutes, but Stephen Murray shamefully headed a Tilney cross wide.

But Salley made no mistake with 10 minutes remaining. Oisin Conaty's corner-kick was headed down by defender Adam McCallum for Salley to cleverly sweep past Rory Brown.

Glens boss McDermott reckons his boys almost paid a heavy price for squandering chances.

"We created six or seven good opportunities in the first-half," he reflected.

"Normally, we would have put the game to bed, but we failed to do that. We could have been more clinical in front of goal.

"Credit to Portadown, they got a bit of a lift when they scored and we became a little bit anxious. But we got the points that we were after."

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