Portrush welcomed local rivals Ballymena to the Quay Road playing fields on Saturday looking to ensure their 100% record would still be intact over the Christmas break.
With this being the last game of 2013 for Portrush everyone was striving to get the three points and look forward to the New Year’s Day Sussex Cup Final. Portrush carved out the first opening after only 40 seconds but James McCook’s shot went just wide. The Ports started to get on top forcing a number of short corners and on the third one Ballymena looked to have cleared the danger but McCook picked up the ball and this time found the back of the net.
The goal settled Portrush and 10 minutes later they doubled their lead as good work from Leon Smith released John Dillon who rounded the keeper and slotted home.
Ballymena though pulled a goal back on the counter attack, but to Portrush’s credit they didn’t let it effect them as Callum McKeeman and Dillon combined to tee up Brent Smith, who make it 3-1. On the stroke of half time captain Aaron Kerr extended his side’s advantage further with a fourth goal.
Ballymena were more of an attacking force after the restart and they pulled another goal back with a similar switch over from their first goal.
During the second half both sides had phases of control and possession but neither could get another goal until Brent Smith got his second of the match with a brilliant strke to make the final score 5-2.
With another fantastic win on Saturday Portrush are now striving forward for the cup final on New Year’s Day. With this win, they still have a perfect record this season having won all eight games played. However all the players realise that they must take each game as it comes and not to expect a result. This growing maturity in what is a very youthful side will bode well for the rest of the season.
Brent Smith played well and added to his contribution with two goals and the Portrush defence with an average age 19 of Ryan Smith, Richard McNabb and Philip Linton played with grit all day.
Portrush Team: G.McAllister (GK), R.Smith, R.McNabb, P.Linton, N.McMaster, L.Smith, C.McKeeman, A.Kerr(C), B.Smith, G.Christie, J.McCook. Subs: J.Dillon, D.Price (Man of the Match: Callum McKeeman)