Warrenpoint manager Barry Gray beaming after ’Town shock Portadown

Warrenpoint's Ciaran O'Connor and Darren King in celebratory mood
Warrenpoint's Ciaran O'Connor and Darren King in celebratory mood

Warrenpoint Town manager Barry Gray was rightly pleased with his side’s much-needed win at home to high-flying Portadown on Friday night.

Gray’s men notched just their third victory of the current Premiership campaign after an excellent performance that denied the Ports the opportunity to go five points clear at the top of the table after Ciaran O’Connor struck twice in the first half to give the hosts a commanding interval lead.

And while Garry Breen did halve the deficit in the second half, that was as good as it got for Ronnie McFall’s side as the ‘Point held out for a famous victory. “I think that was our best performance of the season consistently across 90-plus minutes. It’s something that we haven’t done in recent weeks. Every player that entered the park tonight you can’t fault their performance levels and I said to the after the match that nobody in the ground can begrudge us that because we thoroughly deserved it,” Gray said.

“We matched them like for like and took our goals well and we were unfortunate not to maybe have had a couple more. I thought we had a very strong penalty shout turned down, which would have really taken the pressure off us.

“It’s nice for the players. It’s not easy going week in, week out, busting yourself and getting nothing from it,” he added.

“It’s nice for them to have a night where they can enjoy narrowing the gap off the back of a good performance. The boys that didn’t get on are chomping at the bit for next week. It’s only one win and only three points but at this point, it’s a crucial time for us.

“We’re going in to a very important Christmas period where we have, on paper if you like, games that we could be taking points out of. It’s all about confidence levels and lifting players out of where they are and giving them that extra spring in their step. A result like this will definitely do that.”

O’Connor slotted home after being set up by Stephen Hughes on 20 minutes and then the striker, on-loan from League of Ireland champions Dundalk, headed past David Miskelly from a Daniel Hughes cross from the right.

They should have had the chance to make it 3-0 when O’Connor appeared to be tripped in the box by Chris Ramsey but Referee Colin Burns was unmoved and when Breen headed home to make it 2-1, the home side held on for a massive three points.

Ports boss Ronnie McFall, who celebrated his 28th anniversary in charge at the club on Thursday, was in no doubt what was to blame for the defeat.

“Our attitude was poor from the start. We were shocking all over the pitch, from one to 11 and I couldn’t pick a player [who played well]. Warrenpoint fully merited their win and we can have no complaints in that respect,” he fumed.

“I knew coming here wouldn’t be easy. I think the last three or four times we’ve played them, we’ve found ourselves 2-0 down in the first half of each of those games and we’ve had to fight back,” McFall said.

“No matter how much I preached that to the players, it obviously didn’t get through to them. As I said, it was our attitude and the performance that was the biggest disappointment.

“If the players needed a kick up the backside, then they got it tonight, that’s for sure. Warrenpoint are bottom of the league and obviously they are fighting for their lives and you would have thought that with the quality we have that we would have come out on top.

“But their attitude was better than our and we didn’t deserve anything out of it,” he added.

“We threw [Darren] Murray on and went 4-3-3 with the three players forward to try and salvage something out of it. We got a goal back through Garry Breen and we got ourselves in some good positions in wide areas but our final ball was poor.”