Portadown boss Niall Currie proud of his players for fighting back to extend unbeaten run with dramatic derby draw against Annagh United
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The Ports haven’t lost since a 3-1 Boxing Day defeat to Annagh at the BMG Arena, securing the Mid-Ulster Cup and reaching next month’s BetMcLean Cup final in the meantime, but after Nathan Kerr’s penalty and Paul Finnegan’s strike left them trailing 2-0 at half-time, it looked like it could be a repeat of December’s outcome.
However, Ryan Mayse pulled one back in the 50th minute before Zach Barr netted his sixth goal in eight appearances since arriving from Newington in injury time to secure a dramatic point, which leaves the Shamrock Park outfit sitting fourth, but only two points adrift of leaders Dundela, who thrashed Dergview 5-1 at Wilgar Park.
"It's tinged with frustration and also pride,” Currie reflected on the club’s media channel. “I think in the circumstances we found ourselves in that the boys showed great character in the second-half.
"We're hugely disappointed with how we played in the first-half - we didn't get it down, we didn't move the ball and we just played into Annagh's hands really with long balls and trying to feed off scraps.
"We knew coming down here today that they're outstanding at set-pieces and long throws...we said to the players that there's no coaching manual that can tell you how to head a ball out of your six-yard box and be aggressive.
"We're going to have to keep working on it, but there aren't too many teams that will come here and get points. Annagh are back to full strength, everyone is available and they are a decent side, so fair play to them.
"I thought we were outstanding in the second-half...I thought we were brave, started taking the ball out from the back and playing through and when you look at the game overall we deserved our point."
Victory would have sent Portadown top of the Championship table on goal difference – they could have been the fourth different team to occupy first spot in the space of three days with Institute, Bangor and now Dundela all spending time there since Friday in what is a thrilling title race.
"I'm delighted with them (his players),” added Currie. “When we make changes from the bench they are making an impact.
"With the frustration I have with the boys in the changing room, they also know I'm very proud of them today. I thought they showed real character and kept digging away.
"We're in a good place. Our Achilles heel probably goes back to earlier in the season when we went through a couple of bad patches with the three defeats at the start of the season and three at Christmas time, but since these boys came in we've been on a smashing run and we're still on that run.
"We're all disappointed that we didn't get three points and go top of the league, but in the circumstances with being 2-0 down, if somebody had shouted over to me 'would you take a 2-2 draw?' I would have broken their arm off for it.
"I thought we controlled the whole second-half and fully deserved to get the equaliser. I'm extremely proud of them."