CHAMPIONSHIP TWO: McLaughlin hat-trick joy for Portstewart

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JAMES McLaughlin was the toast of Portstewart on Saturday.

The striker’s hat-trick helped Gary Taylor’s side to a 3-0 win over Chimney Corner, in what was an impressive display.

McLaughlin grabbed his first early in the first half before netting a cool second just after the re-start from long range. On the hour, McLaughlin was on hand again to poke home after some fine build up play.

At the other end, Joel Maddison was rarely called upon, as the Portstewart defence of White, Ramsey, Todd and Bradley dealt well with any Chimney Corner attacks.

Midfielder Alan Gaston should have had his name on the scoresheet too. He could only find the woodwork when he got on the end of a Che Bradley cross. His luck didn’t change when Portstewart were awarded a penalty minutes before the end, Gaston could only watch as his effort hit the cross bar.

“I was delighted with the display, especially to see some goals,” admitted Taylor.

“ We have been putting in plenty of crosses in recent weeks, but there’s been no one there to slot them home, thankfully James was able to do that for us on Saturday. “That was his second hat-trick in a week, he scored three against Riada for the Reserves mid-week, so he’ s back on top form.”

The Portstewart boss went to praise 17-year-old Che Bradley, who played at left back on Saturday.

“Che is a really good young prospect.

“He didn’t look out of place on Saturday. In fact the referee gave him man of the match, despite the fact James got the hat-trick.

“He’s got two great feet, so he can play anywhere. He’s young and has no fear, so we are delighted with him.”

Portstewart face a daunting visit to New Forge this Saturday, where they will meet PSNI. “ They have their manager back from last season, and they seem to be picking up,” told Taylor. “They are always a very solid side, but we had a good performance on Saturday, let’s just hope it can continue.”