Tom’s crowned man of the match against Portadown

CLEAR. Portrush player, John McMullan (right) takes the ball out of defence during his side's game with Portadown 3rds on Saturday.INBM43-14 033SC.

CLEAR. Portrush player, John McMullan (right) takes the ball out of defence during his side's game with Portadown 3rds on Saturday.INBM43-14 033SC.

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Portrush 2nd XI 2 - 2 Portadown 3rd XI

Saturday saw Portrush entertain a youthful Portadown side, looking to improve on last week’s performance. The game began with both teams passing the ball well in defence but with Craig Henry missing from the line-up, Portrush struggled to match their rival’s in midfield. With defences on top in the opening stages, little chances were created.

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.

The first meaningful attack of the game saw a quick break from Portrush with James McCook’s powerful run from midfield and his clever pass found Barry McMullan through on goal.

After rounding the ‘keeper superbly, the young striker was upended in the ‘D’ and the umpire awarded a flick to Portrush. Andy Dalzell stepped up and saw his effort well saved from the Portadown keeper, who had an excellent game throughout.

Portrush continued to break forward and won a short corner shortly after with Andy Dalzell being denied withboth his initial effort and on the rebound from the stopper again.

As the half progressed Portrush began to struggle with the shape and athleticism of Portadown, who ended the half in the ascendancy, forcing Portrush deep into their own half. However, through a combination of great goalkeeping and some excellent defending from the backline, the game remained goalless at half-time with John McMullan’s goal-line clearance being the last meaningful action of the 1st half.

The 2nd half continued to be a tight affair with both teams playing some nice hockey. Attempting to play out from the back, a misplaced pass just outside the Portrush ‘D’ saw Portadown take the lead from close range after a goalmouth scramble.

The response of Portrush was immediate and following excellent link-up from James McCook and Andy Dalzell, the former was able to slide the ball past the on-rushing ‘keeper. Portrush looked to capitalise on a shift in momentum in the game and took the lead shortly after when the ball fell to Gavin Christie on the right side of the ‘D’ and he calmly slotted past the ‘keeper at the near post.

Determined to hold onto their lead, Portrush sat back with Andy Dalzell dropping back to add his experience in the Portrush midfield, making a number of crucial tackles and feeding the Portrush front line on the break. Despite Portadown pressing forward, they were well marshalled by Peter McMullan and Tom Cartmill, who were both excellent throughout, and Portrush were able to counter-attack in numbers and despite creating a few clear chances, most notably Barry McMullan, were denied on each occasion by the Portadown ‘keeper.

As Portrush attempted to see the game out, Portadown were awarded a short corner late in the game. Despite clearing theinitial effort, the ball was hit into the ‘D’ from the right and the striker was able to take a touch before smashing the ball into the net, giving Matt Jordan in the Portrush goal no chance. With little time left on the clock, Portrush were unable to push for a winner.

Despite conceding the late equaliser Portrush take heart with a much improved performance ahead of next Saturdays top-of-the-table clash v Mossley 4’s at Quay Road.

Portrush 2nd XI: Matt Jordan, Josh Hutchinson, Tom Cartmill, Peter McMullan, John McMullan, Aaron Douglas, Graeme Kerr, Craig Hogg (C), James McCook, Andy Dalzell, Barry McMullan, Adam Holmes, Simon Bourne, Gavin Christie, Colin Manson

Man of the Match: Tom Cartmill