Linfield 1 Portadown 1
What a performance tonight against the Blues in the International Stadium in Belfast. With their backs against the wall the Ports rallied the troops and gave Linfield a hell of a fright, almost snatching an impossible victory which not even a diehard Ports fan would have predicted. Young Ross Larkin starred in the centre of a makeshift Ports defence where he was partnered by Brendon Shannon with Mark Carson and Matthew Hazley assisting in the full back positions. Chris McGaughey was back in goals and dealt comfortably with everything that came his way. Niall Henderson had one of his best games in a Ports jersey, disrupting wave after wave of Linfield attacks and Robbie Garrett worked tirelessly alongside, picking up the balls and launching the counter attacks. Up fron Marcio Soares gave the Linfield defenders all sorts of problems with his pace and overall workrate. And it was Soares who almost opened the scoring for the Ports in the 15th minute when he forced a great save from Carroll from just inside the box. Seven miutes later Waterworth went close for Linfield but was thwarted by McGaughey who narrowed the angle forcing the Linfield man to shoot wide. On the stroke of half time, Waterworth broke free again, but again McGaughey gave the Linfield man little target to aim for and his shot went past the Portadown post and out to safety.
The second half saw more of the same, with Linfield pressing forward looking for the breakthrough, but the patched up Ports defence held firm. The first real chance then came for the Ports when Soares broke through the Linfield defence, pursued by Casement. As Soares pushed towards the Linfield goals he seemed to be bundled over as he was about to shoot, but the referee waved play on. However, in the 84th minute, Adam Foley showed how to do it when he lobbed Carroll from 20 yards to send the small band of Ports fans into raptures. A wonderfully executed goal and well deserved on the balance of play.
As the clock ran down, Linfield threw everything at the Ports defence and after going close on a couple of occasions finally made the breakthrough in injury time through Carson who bundled the ball in after McGaughey was injured in making the save to snatch a point which they didn’t deserve. McGaughey was strethered off after lengthy treatment with a deep laceration to the leg which required 7 stitches.