BALLYMENA UTD1 PORTADOWN 3
Portadown’s Ronnie McFall will face Glentoran in the Irish Cup final on May 2.
The Ports blew away the challenge of Ballymena United at the Oval last night to register their spot in the showcase decider.
In fact, they had the game over as a contest by 27 minutes.
Goals from Mark McAllister, Michael Gault and Peter McMahon had the Ports fans celebrating. Even though substitute Darren Boyce grabbed a second half consolation, it was too little to late.
Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson made sweeping changes from the team that lost to Crusaders last week. His cause wasn’t helped when giant goalkeeper Tim Allen cried off with a chest infection. Dwayne Nelson was drafted in as his replacement.
Defender Johnny Taylor was deemed fit, even though he hadn’t played since the quarter final win over H&W Welders, while David Cushley and Gary Thompson both returned from suspension.
Striker Gary McCutcheon also returned, having to sit out last week’s game against his former club Crusaders.
Portadown chief Ronnie McFall was also dealt a telling blow just before the start with defender Chris Ramsey pulling out after aggravating an injury in the warm up.
Teenager Shea Conaty moved off the subs’ bench. Keith O’Hara and McAllister were handed a starting slot.
And, McAllister should have shot the Ports into the lead after only three minutes, but his close range shot flew over the crossbar.
But he had better luck 60 seconds later. He charged down a poor Paddy McNally clearance before dispatching a low drive past Nelson.
The Portadown fans were on their feet again to acclaim a second on 15 minutes. Sean Mackle picked out Gault, whose shot was blocked on the line by Jim Ervin, but the former Linfield midfielder followed up to ram home the rebound.
It was all over as a contest on 27 minutes. This time Gary Twigg picked out McMahon with a delicious pass and his lob from 25 yards left Nelson totally helpless.
It could have been worse just before the break, only for Nelson, who managed to grasp a Twigg shot.
United hit a consolation on 70 minutes. Substitute Boyce latched on to a Johnny Taylor pass before shooting low under the body of goalkeeper David Miskelly.
Ballymena United: Nelson, Ervin, McNally (Teggart 59), Taylor, McBride, Kane, Thompson, Jenkins, McCutcheon (Boyce 46), Tipton, Cushley.
Subs not used: Surgenor, Addis, McCaul.
Portadown: Miskelly, Redman, O’Hara, Conaty, Breen, McMahon, Mackle, McAllister, Mouncey, Gault, Twigg (Murray 73).
Subs not used: Brennan, Little, Stewart.
Referee: A Davey (Bangor).