Cliftonville 3 - Portrush 2
PORTRUSH were boosted this week for their Irish Cup match against Cliftonville with the return of both John Dillon and James “Daddy” McCook to the starting line up, after a week of absence, although their talisman from the back Neil McMaster had man flu (a cold) so started on the bench.
Portrush began surprisingly well and kept possession of the ball from Cliftonville throughout the first 20 mins. This possession paid off when John Dillon slotted home a well placed shot.
After this opening goal, Portrush continued to retain the ball and really test the Cliftonville defence and once again John Dillon scored his second of the match to prove that he is better at scoring goals than he is at catching a flight at Belfast International Airport! 2-0 Portrush.
The visitors came under some pressure from Cliftonville as they looked to keep the match alive and ultimately Cliftonville scored 5 minutes from half time to make the half time score 2-1.
After the break Portrush sat back and invited a lot of pressure on them there then were several short corners given away and from one of these Cliftonville scored the equaliser to make it 2-2.
The match after this goal became really tight and there was some meaty tackles going in from both sides but it was a very good second half of hockey from both Portrush and Cliftonville.
The game looked destined to go to extra time but 20 seconds from the final whistle, Cliftonville scored to break Portrush hearts and dump them out of the cup.
The Portrush players were disappointed about losing a 2-0 lead but new they played really attractive hockey and there was no lack of effort from any player on the pitch.
To play the way they did against a team just relegated to Senior 2 showed so much courage and no player had any fear so if they can carry this through to the league next week against Omagh, Portrush should do well this year.
Portrush Team: G. McAllister(GK), R.Smith, N. McMaster, G. Kerr, A. McConaghie, A. Christie, A. Kerr ©, L. Greene, C. McKeeman, J. McCook, J. Dillon, A. Dalzell, P. Linton, C.Henry.
* Footnote – Portrush Seconds’ game on Saturday was cancelled.