Portadown retain hopes of securing European football

Portadown's Chris Casement celebrates after putting the Ports 3-0 up against Glenavon
Portadown's Chris Casement celebrates after putting the Ports 3-0 up against Glenavon

They’re laughing out loud down Portadown way at suggestions that Crusaders players may “throw” their final game against Linfield so that Cliftonville can retain the Danske Irish Premiership title.

The rather public David Jeffrey-Stephen Baxter row, played out on the media on Saturday, doesn’t even register on the Richter scale among the County Armagh fans after the Ports beat great rivals Glenavon for the first time this season.

With Crusaders falling to the Blues on Saturday, this win leaves the door ajar to the Ports finishing third and stealing into Europe and a £100,000 bonanza.

But they expect no favours from Seaview where a determined Crusaders beat them 3-1 the previous week in their bid to make the Euro scene. And they are still favourites to finish third, sitting two points ahead of the Ports.

Shamrock boss Ronnie McFall would only speak of the 3-0 win over Glenavon. “Yes, it leaves us with a chance of Europe,” he said.

“But we won’t be looking over our shoulders – only forward.”

And ahead of them are three tough matches – Linfield (A), Cliftonville (H) and Glentoran (H) - so no favours will be expected either way.

McFall was full of praise for his team, especially Man-of-the-Match Chris Casement who netted two superb second-half goals with his right foot, and laid on a wonderful corner for the opener after just four minutes – it simply begged Emmett Friars to power-head home.

Meanwhile, Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton insisted that 3-0 didn’t reflect the positive way his team performed – “We missed so many chances”. And he firmly dismissed suggestions that Glenavon were resting on their laurels pending the Irish Cup Final against Ballymena, although he rested six regulars for Saturday’s game.

“We really wanted this one,” he said.

“In fact, we want every point. Having beaten Portadown three times this season, we’d like to have made it four, but it wasn’t to be.”

Glenavon came oh-so-close to scoring between the Casement brace when veteran Winkie Murphy headed a real cracker against the crossbar and the perfectly-placed Friars hoofed it off the line.

Chris Casement commented, “It was certainly the day of the defenders. We scored all three goals and kept a clean sheet, and hopefully Europe beckons. And to be fair, that Murphy effort deserved a goal.”