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Danske Bank Premiership

Barton at the double to deny Reds victory

By Staff Reporter
Portadown 3 -- Cliftonville 3

CLIFTONVILLE manager Tommy Breslin felt frustration as two late goals denied his side victory at Shamrock Park on Saturday.

Leading 2-0 through Liam Boyce and Martin Murray, the Reds were pegged back by a home penalty before Murray’s second of the afternoon looked to have secured maximum points only for Portadown substitute Joshua Barton to level with a brace of strikes in the contest’s closing exchanges.

“There were lots of positives to take out of the game,” said the Reds’ boss.

“We scored three good goals, worked very hard and there was a lot of very good teamwork. They score from a penalty, a deflected shot and another one from outside the box that dragged us back and it was just frustrating having played so well, but that’s football.”

Joe Gormley’s suspension opened the door for Murray whose determined run and inch-perfect cross allowed Boyce to nod home the opener with 14 minutes on the clock.

The duo linked up again ten minutes later when Martin Donnelly’s through-ball carved the Ports defence open and Boyce teed Murray up for a simple finish at the back post.

Diarmuid O’Carroll thought he’d made it 3-0 before the interval but he was judged offside after getting on the end of a delicate Donnelly touch and the hosts were offered a lifeline shortly after the turnaround when the Fourth Official spotted Ronan Scannell’s hand-ball in the box and Darren Murray stepped up to stroke home from the spot.

On 66 minutes, the Champions looked to have put the outcome beyond doubt with a sensational team goal that started with Marc Smyth laying possession wide to Seydak, who in turn found Donnelly and, when his ball down the

line was flicked on by Boyce, Barry Johnston produced a delightful left-footed cross which substitute Chris Scannell nudged into Murray’s path and the youngster made no mistake with a rifled finish into the roof of the net.

The Ports hit back on 83 minutes, however, when Joshua Barton robbed Joe McNeill and lined up a shot which took a hugely fortunate deflection off Twigg en route to wrong-footing Devlin – and the same two home players were involved in the equaliser almost immediately afterwards when referee Mark Courtney allowed play to continue despite Twigg’s foul on Smyth and Barton reacted quickest to find the bottom corner from just outside the box.

Both sides had chances to claim the victory in the final five minutes with Johnston and Ryan Catney each delivering wicked crosses into the danger area before another ricochet almost saw Twigg win it for Portadown only for the ball to strike the post.

Next up for the Reds is league leaders Linfield at Solitude on Saturday and Breslin is hoping this can inspire a much needed victory.

“We are still in single figures (behind) but this Saturday is a great opportunity to tighten things up a bit and that’s what we will be trying to do,” he added.

“Linfield are on a good run and we know we will need to be at our best and defend a lot better then take whatever chances come along, but I’m sure we will give a good account of ourselves.”

PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Breen, Ramsey, McMahon (Mackle, 73 mins), Murray, Paget (Mouncey, 46 mins), McCafferty, McStay (Barton, 77 mins), Twigg, Friars, O’Connor. Unused subs: Brennan, Rooney.

CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, R. Scannell, Johnston, Donnelly (Doherty, 87 mins), O’Carroll, Seydak (C Scannell 65, mins), Smyth, Catney, Murray (McNeill, 79 mins), Boyce. Unused subs: McNally, McGrandles.

REFEREE: Mark Courtney

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