CIARAN Clarke’s long range effort earned the Bannsiders a hard earned point from their trip to Shamrock Park in October 2011…
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Portadown 1-1 Coleraine
Goals – Clarke (’10 mins), Mouncey (’52 mins)
This hard-fought draw with Coleraine leap-frogged Portadown to the top of the table, a point ahead of Linfield. But if the Blues reclaim the top berth by beating Glentoran tonight, Ports boss Ronnie McFall won’t lose any sleep.
All his thoughts are trained on the mouthwatering encounter at Windsor Park next Saturday in the Ports-Blues league match that will truly test the mettle of both teams.
“The Big Two game is totally beyond my control,” said McFall.
“I never worry what other teams do. We have to concentrate on our own matches. And, anyway, it’s far too early in the season to predict who’ll win the league.
“Portadown are currently on top along with Linfield, but teams like Crusaders, Cliftonville and Coleraine will be competing for the title.
“If we’re in contention in February and March we’ll be happy. But the league is just one-third complete.”
McFall was none-too-pleased with the Ports’ first-half showing on Saturday, with a cracking goal from Bannsiders’ Ciaran Clarke separating the teams.
He said: “They weren’t winning tackles or passing the ball with any conviction. There was no sharpness or penetration and I let them know emphatically during the break.
“They were a different side afterwards, and frankly we should have taken all three points the way we played in the second half.”
Coleraine boss Oran Kearney knew that things would be different after the break.
“We expected the Alamo from Portadown after their out-of-sorts first-half and that’s what we got. I knew Ronnie would have a stern word with them and they responded,” he said.
“Coleraine teams in the past would have crumbled after they equalised, but there’s a bit of spirit and steel in this one, and we weathered the storm. True, they troubled the woodwork once or twice, but I think we deserved a point.”
The Clarke classic came on 10 minutes when he was given shoals of space in midfield and leathered the ball home from 30 yards into the top left-hand corner, giving David Miskelly no chance.
It should have been 2-0 at that stage, with Gareth Tommons missing a sitter two minutes sooner, but against that, a Kevin Braniff free-kick at the other end shook the Coleraine goal frame, and Matthew Tipton lobbed the ball weakly into Michael Doherty’s hands when he should have equalised just before the break.
The Ports responded to the McFall half-time lecture, and only a determined defensive display — with Howard Beverland and David Ogilby outstanding — kept them at bay.
Tim Mouncey’s scrambled leveller on 52 minutes was in contrast to the Clarke rocket. It started with a Keith O’Hara free-kick, Jamie Tomelty headed it back across goals and Mouncey bundled it over the line.
The same player almost stole a winner 15 minutes from time, but a brilliant stop by Doherty made it a point apiece. And a Tipton effort smashed against the crossbar
Coleraine hero Beverland said: “I’m convinced our team is good enough to at least make the top six and maybe even make it into Europe for next season.”
PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Mackle (Boyle ’79 mins), Redman, O’Hara, Ramsey, Tipton, Braniff, Mouncey, Tomelty (McCluskey ’85 mins), Gartland, McCafferty.
Subs Not Used: Murphy (GK), Breen, McCabe.
COLERAINE: Doherty, Beverland, Ogilby, Scullion, Lowry, Allen (Jennings ’67 mins) , Knight, Canning, Tommons (Watt ’47 mins), Clarke (McIlmoyle ’75 mins), Black.
Subs Not Used: Cullen (GK), McNulty.