INSTITUTE Colts’ returned to action after their winter break with a disappointing 4-3 defeat at the hands of Portadown Thirds, at the Riverside Stadium, on Saturday.
’Stute looked a little rusty in the early stages and found themselves on the back foot as the visitors forced a string of corners but they couldn’t make the pressure count and on 16 minutes it was the home side who opened the scoring.
Ryan Varma broke up a Portadown attack and found Jack Higgins in an advance position, the midfielder ran at the opposition defence before playing a fine through ball to Aaron Porter and the striker made no mistake from 12 yards.
Nine minutes later the same player extended ’Stute’s lead after Jamie McIntyre had shown great skill to beat the full-back and deliver a dangerous low cross into the box, Porter’s first effort was blocked by the keeper but the youngster reacted quickly to pounce on the loose ball and fire home from close range.
Portadown had an excellent opportunity to reduce the deficit just before the break but the ball was blasted high over the crossbar following good work down their left.
The visitors did find the net early in the second period following a dangerous corner kick.
The ball was cleared to the edge of the box and as the ball was drilled back into the danger zone it took a wicked deflection that sent the ball spinning high into the air and as the ’Stute keeper came to punch the ball clear he seemed to be impeded and the ball deflected off a Portadown forward into the unguarded net.
Within minutes though the home side restored their two-goal advantage with Porter completing his hat-trick after a lightning break and fine through-ball by Jack King. The striker raced clear and once again he showed a cool head to pick his spot in the far corner beyond the keepers reach.
To their credit the visitors came storming back and a right wing cross looked destined for the head of their striker as he threw himself towards the ball.
He narrowly failed to make contact with the cross but defender Shay Duffy was helpless as the ball cannoned off his shoulder and flew into his own net.
The same player couldn’t believe his luck again, in the 68th minute, when the referee awarded a controversal penalty after the full-back had gone shoulder to shoulder with an opponent inside the box, the forward seemed to go down rather easily after minimal contact and the home side where clearly agitated particularly as they had just had an appeal of there own waved away after McIntyre had been sent sprawling at the other end. The resulting spotkick however was duely dispatched to draw the sides level.
Four minutes later Portadown struck what turned out to be the killer blow after another cross from the right was clinically volleyed home at the back post to the obvious delight of the visitors.
The Drumahoe side threw everything forward in search of an equaliser but the just couldn’t find a way past a resolute Portadown defence.
The play switched from end to end but neither side could add to the scoreline an a disappointed ’Stute side left the pitch wondering how they had lost this game from such a commanding position.
After the game boss Colin Colhoun felt his side had performed well and were a bit unlucky not to take at least a share of the spoils.
“Disappointing result after we had played so well for an hour and got ourselves into a great position,” stated Colhoun.
“I think a few of the referees decisions seemed to knock us off our stride while Portadown were visibly lifted. In the end they just wanted it a bit more than we did.
“We have players with great ability in our squad and they have to take results like this and learn from them.
“It’s a young squad, with most of them having another year or two at this age-group, and sometimes when decisions go against them you can see their frustration growing. But, they have to learn to channel that energy and respond in a positive manner.
“Hopefully days like this will build character in these boys, I know that the result has hurt them but the only way to react is by working hard this week and putting in a performance next Saturday at Larne.”