Portadown boss Ronnie McFall praises players after victory

Coleraine's Lyndon Kane in action with Portadown's Michael Gault.
Coleraine's Lyndon Kane in action with Portadown's Michael Gault.

Ronnie McFall hailed the influential trio of Mark McAllister, Michael Gault and Robert Garrett as his side closed the gap on league leaders Linfield.

The triumvirate left Windsor Park in the summer to join McFall at Shamrock Park, and the Ports boss said they have made a big difference throughout the club.

“There’s a different mentality in our dressing room to what it was last year,” he said after his side kicked off the new year with a 1-0 win at Coleraine.

“The three guys who have come in from Linfield have made a massive difference to us. Their professionalism has rubbed off on the other players, we have a united dressing room and we are fully focused on what we want to achieve.”

McAllister proved to be the difference at The Showgrounds as his 45th minute header from Chris Casement’s crossed sealed an important win.

It was a largely forgettable first half with McAllister’s header the only real moment of quality. Things improved after the break as Coleraine upped the ante, but they spurned several good opportunities to draw level.

They were presented with a great opportunity to level things up on 52 minutes as Michael Hegarty sent Parkhill racing clear. The striker’s initial effort was blocked by Brennan, he reacted quickly to pick up the rebound, but again Brennan parried, remarkably the striker had a third opportunity to get a shot away, but his lofted effort sailed over the crossbar.

Two minutes later Parkhill was picked out by an excellent McNeill cross, but he headed straight at Brennan.

An awful clearance by Chris Ramsey just before the hour mark allowed Parkhill in, his clever flick teed up McNeill, but the midfielder got his shot all wrong and skied over.

Darren Murray was denied the chance to wrap up the points on the hour mark as Michael Doherty parried his effort away, before Stephen Douglas almost caught out Billy Brennan with a wind assisted free kick in the closing stages.

“We knew coming down here it was never going to be easy, we knew how important it was to pick up the three points, so this is a massive result for us today,” said McFall.

“We also kept a clean sheet, which we haven’t been doing over the last few weeks. I think overall we deserved to take all three points.

“We got the goal at a good time. It was a great cross by Casement and McAllister finished it really well. He has been excellent for us this season.

“It wasn’t ideal conditions. It was windy and the pitch was very heavy, but it’s about winning ugly, sometimes you have to dig in and get the result and we did that.”

“We have closed the gap on the teams above us and there’s four teams all pushing for top spot. It is going to be a tight finish right up until the very end.

“You are running out of games now so it is vital to pick up points in every game you play. I’m sure there will be a few more twists and turns along the way though before it is over.”

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney was pleased with his side’s performance if not the result.

“I said to the lads at half time and after the game too that I couldn’t ask for any more from them,” he said.

“I have been getting that level of performance out of them week in, week out for most of this season.

“I thought we defended well today and I thought we created enough chances to win the game as well.”