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Tennents Irish Cup 6th Round – Loughgall 1 Portadown 2

Portadown put their disappointing league form behind them today with a hard fought victory away to Loughgall in the 6th round of the Irish Cup.  Manager Niall Currie gave debuts to latest signings Matthew Hazley and Jack Duffin with Shane Dolan coming off the bench for the last 10 minutes.  Seventeen year old Ross Larkin made his first team debut in the centre of defence alongside Ken Oman.   The match itself was tough and uncompromising with both sides struggling on the soft Lakeview surface, but it was the home team who settled better from the kick off and got the dream start in the 12th minute when Peter Campbell reacted quickest to shoot past Duffin from 12 yards out.  The unlucky Duffin had made a terrific stop to deny Andrew Hoey but was unable to hold the ball, leaving Campbell the easiest of chances to score.  The Ports responded immediately and pressed forward in search of an equaliser.  However despite some nice approach play there was little threat in the final third.  Home goalkeeper Buchanon was somewhat lucky to remain on the pitch after a rash challenge on McGerrigan just outside the box as the midfielder broke clear of the Loughgall back four, however referee Andrew Davey only opted to issue a yellow card when a red seemed more likely under the circumstances.  Five minutes before the interval, Tiernan Mulvenna nipped in to flick the ball past Buchanon, only to see his effort cleared off the line.

Four minutes into the second half the Ports were back on level terms and it was McGerrigan who slotted the ball home from 10 yards after good work from Foley on the right.  The goal seemed to settle the Ports and it was no surprise that they took the lead 15minutes later when Mulvenna chased down a lost cause to the bye line, slid to keep the ball in play then skinned the defender before firing home from an acute angle to send the Ports supporters into raptures.  An unbelieveable individual effort and just rewards for an excellent all round performance.  Mark McAllister, who lead the line brilliantly all afternoon, then had the chance to put the result beyound reach when he burst through the home defence only to be denied by Buchanon from close range.

The home side rallied late in the game, but any threat was contained by young Ross Larkin who made an impressive debut alongside Ken Oman in the heart of the Ports defence.   The seventeen year old, brought into the team as a replacement for the injured Garry Breen, produced a mature performance well beyong his years and grew in stature as the game wore on.  Definitiely another terrific prospect for the future.

As the Ports fans made their way home, news of the next round draw began to filter through, with the Ports drawn at home to mid-Ulster rivals Glenavon on March 4th.

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