Jeremy Rea knows that if his Portadown side are going to win the Linden Cup, they will have to up their game against Newry, after they reached the New Year’s Day final, defeating Campbellians 3-1 at Stormont on Sunday.
The Ports were red hot favourites against a Campbellians side, who were missing six regular first eleven players. But whether it was complacency or over confidence, Portadown struggled to kill-off Campbellians, who refused to roll over.
After the game the Ports captain, Rea said: “It wasn’t a great performance and it was very patchy. In the first half we were ok but the second half I don’t know what happened, whether Campbellians changed their game plan or we just switched off.
“We were pretty woeful, we made a lot of mistakes and we made it very hard for ourselves, that’s not the way we normally play. I don’t know whether the guys thought we had won it and stopped playing.
“But fair play to Campbellians, they kept going. They scored one and if they had taken a couple of chances to put it two all, it could have been a different result.
“Thankfully we scored a late one at the end and that took the pressure of us. It was scrappy but at least we have got to the final but there is a lot of hard work to be done before then.”
Ryan Bennett put the Ports ahead early on, with a well taken penalty corner. And shortly after, Zach Clelland doubled their lead, as he slipped the ball beneath Campbellians keeper, Daren Rodgers.
But then Portadown took their foot off the pedal and in the 49th minute, Stewart Kirk threw the Stormont side a life-line when he slotted home a well executed penalty corner.
And minutes later, Gareth Titler had to be sharp to take the ball off the line, to deny Craig Mack from equalising.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Mack and Conor Gilmer split the Ports defence, only to see Gilmer blast his shot into the side netting, much to the relief of Portadown.
But with six minutes remaining, Ports top goal scorer Stephen Johnston scored a typical predator’s goal when he pounced on a rebound off the post, to slot the ball home much to the relief of the Portadown players and spectators.