‘Gut-wrenching’ loss but Dean Smith highlights overall Loughgall progress
Suspension prevented Dean Smith clocking up his ninth derby date in a Loughgall dug-out against Portadown but the manager’s view from the stand failed to lessen the pain of defeat.
Smith made the short trip from his Portadown home to Shamrock Park hoping to have masterminded a midweek gameplan to break his run of disappointments since swapping Annagh United for Loughgall in November 2016.
His seat offered a perfect vantage point as Peter Campbell caused multiple problems for the Ports in a dazzling display capped by breaking the deadlock.
However, Smith also had to watch Portadown complete a comeback thanks to late goals from Aaron Duke and Conal McGrandles.
“I’m gutted for the players as not too many teams will come to Shamrock Park, dominate the game and limit Portadown to two shots,” said Smith. “I felt to come out with a point even would have been criminal, so it’s gut-wrenching.
“When we first came in at Loughgall as a management team I felt there was a fear in the squad about coming to Shamrock Park.
“In my first few games we seemed to have lost at times before a ball had been kicked.
“So that has come full circle . We now come to Portadown with confidence and able to play free-flowing football on the attack.
“The club has come on leaps and bounds in my two or three seasons here, not just in terms of players but across the pitch, behind the scenes and the backroom staff.
“The club has developed so much on and off the pitch too, including bringing better personnel to the club so that, in turn, should lead to greater results.
“So much work has been put in overall and now we are leaving places like Portadown disappointed not to have our just rewards.
“We’ve played better and a couple of individual mistakes cost us but today was certainly our best performance of the past few games.
“The players gave everything, individually and collectively.
“It’s a long season and the luck we maybe had at the early stage of the season is not with us at the minute but will hopefully come back.
“Peter Campbell was outstanding, Nathaniel Ferris fantastic and Jordan Gibson running things in midfield.
“I think Peter is the best player in this league and he’s added goals now to his pace and all-round game.
“He’s invaluable, with a great attitude on and off the pitch, and I’m sure he will go on to play at a higher level.
“He came to us from Portadown and has developed here season-on-season, with that physical strength now added to Peter’s other attributes.”