Seconds huff and puff but can’t find a Glade goal

H'ANDY'. Portrush player, Andy Dalzell battles for posession during their game against Portadown 3rds on Saturday in Ballycastle.INBM43-14 034SC.
H'ANDY'. Portrush player, Andy Dalzell battles for posession during their game against Portadown 3rds on Saturday in Ballycastle.INBM43-14 034SC.

Portrush travelled to The Glade to play a strong Mossley side, looking to avenge a heavy defeat from the week before.

With both sides level on points and sitting second and third in the table, the winner would all but seal promotion to JL4.

With Portrush missing a few key players, they knew a tough game was on the cards and from the outset Mossley were able to dominate possession in what proved to be a physical encounter.

With Mossley having the majority of the play, the Portrush backline were under constant pressure but were able to keep the Mossley attacks at bay with a combination of gritty defending and some fine saves from David McMullan.

When Portrush were able to gain possession, a combination of Mossley pressure on the ball and poor passing meant they were unable to sustain a prolonged period of dominance in the game. Instead they were limited to counterattacks with Andy Dalzell often dropping deep and sending a number of overheads over the top of the Mossley defence.

Barry McMullan, who caused the Mossley defence problems all afternoon, had a couple of good opportunities in the first half with one being well saved by the keeper and when he did beat the keeper, saw his reverse shot drift agonisingly wide of the far post.

With Portrush able to keep out a number of dangerous attacks throughout the half, they conceded just before half-time. A minor lapse of concentration from the Portrush defence saw a free from 30 yards struck to an unmarked Mossley forward on the by-line in the circle. Despite David McMullan saving the initial effort, the rebound was well finished into the far corner from a tight angle.

The second half began in a similar vain with Mossley constantly looking dangerous in attack. Portrush were dealt a blow with Craig Henry having to go off injured at the beginning of the half, which upset the team shape. In spite of his blow Portrush continued to push for an equaliser.

However, they were caught on the break with a precise clearance from the Mossley backline leaving the dangerous forward one-on-one with the Portrush defence. With a fortunate break in the tackle, the forward was able to bring the ball into the circle before firing an unstoppable reverse-stick shot past McMullan.

With plenty of the game still remaining, Portrush knew there was plenty of time to get back into the game and continued to push forward. After a defensive mix-up, Barry McMullan was sent clear on goal but his reverse-stick effort was thwarted by the Mossley keeper after he was initially rounded. Andy Dalzell also saw an effort well-saved by the keeper after he brilliantly skipped in between the two Mossley defenders.

As Portrush pushed forward, they had to take necessary risks which left them susceptible to the counter-attack but the defence, with John McMullan in particular having an excellent game, stood firm and David McMullan was on hand to make a number of key saves to keep the game alive. However, despite creating a few half chances in the remaining minutes, Portrush were unable to get back a score.

Despite the disappointment of the result, Portush take positives from the level of commitment and teamwork shown by the players against their strong rivals and with two games left in the season, hope that winning both games will be enough to seal promotion to JL4.

Portrush II: David McMullan, Craig Hogg, Peter McMullan, Aaron Douglas, John McMullan, Gavin Christie, Craig Henry, Graeme Kerr, Scott Horner, Andy Dalzell, Barry McMullan, Matthew Elder

MOTM: Barry McMullan