PORTRUSH 2NDS 2 NEWRY 3RDS 1
PORTRUSH Seconds maintained their challenge for a top position in the league with a hard-fought 2-1 win over league leaders, Newry Thirds at the Quay Road Playing Fields in Ballycastle on Saturday.
Portrush went into the game as underdogs as Newry had only suffered one defeat this season.
It was a nervy start for Portrush and Newry dominated for the first 20 minutes and it was no surprise when they went ahead from open play, leaving the home defence somewhat flat-footed in the process.
The Portrush defence had to work hard to keep the eager Newry forwards at bay and only a timely goal-line clearance from left-back John McMullan kept Portrush in the game.
Tactical substitutions from Portrush changed the face of the game near the end of the first half and from a short corner a jubilant Peter McMullan scored after his initial shot had been partially cleared.
The goal came at the perfect time and gave Portrush the confidence they needed to take the game to Newry.
Aaron Kerr was proving brilliant in midfield along with Scott Horner and Craig Henry who were playing out of their skins.
Driving rain and a strong wind made playing conditions difficult but now that Portrush had the bit between their teeth there was no stopping them. Portrush did miss a number of clear cut chances but they still maintained their superiority.
And their efforts were rewarded when Barry McMullan fired home from close range to secure the points.
The clash between these two sides has proved prickly in the past and it was no exception on Saturday.
The competitive edge was evident from time to time and two Portrush players were sin-binned after falling foul of the umpire.
However, Portrush displayed plenty of spirit and all agreed it was one of their best performances of the season particularly as they were playing the top of the table team.
Team: T. Kirkpatrick, J. McMullan, P. McMullan, T. Cartmill (capt). J. Hutchinson, S. Horner, C. Henry, R. Jones, C. Leeming, B. McMullan, G. Christie. Subs – P. Linton, A. Douglas, C. Hogg, A. Kerr.