South Antrim Firsts 3
It was a real “six pointer” affair at Friends’ on Saturday as South Firsts welcomed fellow promotion hopefuls, Portadown, to Lisburn.
Both sides led the way in Senior One having lost only one game each thus far this season; Portadown’s coming at the hands of South in October.
Despite the paramount importance of this game being drummed into the South players pre-match, the Lisburn side started slowly. Portadown took the lead midway through the first half when Zach McClelland fired the ball home after a skirmish in the South D.
Portadown made their dominance of possession tell in terms of winning several short corners during the first half but the South defence remained resolute and shut these chances out well.
As the half wore on, South started to gain a foothold in the game. Adam Glass, usually so clinical from close range, missed the best chance in the opening period for South as he somehow skewed the ball wide from 6 yards when - if truth be told - it’d have been easier to score.
The hosts fell further behind two minutes before half-time when a dangerous cross from Portadown’s Gregory Croft deflected in off, South defender, Mark Gray’s stick.
A half-time dressing down and tactical switch from South coach Drew Campbell seemingly did the trick for the hosts, as they ran out 3-2 winners after a pulsating second half.
With skipper Lee Marshall now pushed into midfield, South dominated possession in the second half and were able to apply pressure on the Portadown side higher up the pitch.
Paul Maguire came close to reducing the deficit but his effort deflected onto the foot of, fellow forward, Chris Henry.
South’s dominance soon paid off, however. Adam Glass made amends for his earlier miss as he grabbed the host’s first goal, slamming the ball home following a poorly cleared short corner. Moments later and South were level; again via another short corner. A slick routine, which had been concocted specifically to combat the Portadown short corner defence’s running pattern, was converted by Chris Henry.
And it was that man Henry who grabbed the winner and the 3 points for the hosts 10 minutes from time. Skipper, Lee Marshall, pounced on a stray pass 40 yards out and drove the ball forward before picking Henry out who deflected the ball home.