Irish Cup: Portadown beat Ballymena in cup semi-final

Portadown's Mark McAllister scored the opener against Ballymena

Portadown scored all their goals in the opening 26 minutes as they beat Ballymena United 3-1 in the Irish Cup semi-final at the Oval.

Mark McAllister fired in the opener in the fourth minute and another former Linfield man Michael Gault drilled in number two on the quarter hour.

Any hopes Ballymena had of making the final looked over when Peter McMahon ran clear to lob keeper Dwayne Nelson.

Ballymena sub Darren Boyce pulled a goal back 20 minutes from the end.

Boyce's shot took a deflection which beat Ports keeper David Miskelly and it gave Ballymena some hope of a late, if unlikely revival.

Soon after that, a revitalised United went close when David Cushley's shot went just wide.

Another United goal then would have really have sparked the game into life, but it did not come and Ronnie McFall's Ports will play Glentoran who beat Crusaders 1-0 in the other semi-final.

It will leave Ballymena fans wondering why it took so long for their side to compete with Portadown.

Glenn Ferguson's men made a poor start, conceding that early McAllister goal.

The former Linfield front man forced his way into the box and found the net with a right-foot drive.

It got worse for Ballymena as Gault made to 2-0. His initial right-foot shot was superbly saved by Nelson, but the midfielder snapped up the loose ball to finish with his left.

It appeared to be game over when McMahon's pace saw him get through to skilfully lob over the exposed Nelson.

Boyce scored Ballymena's goal in the 70th minute by running on to a poor headed clearance to strike a shot which was deflected past Miskelly.

Ballymena manager Glenn Ferguson: "We did not do the basics properly. There was no way we were going to come back from 3-0 down against a team like Portadown.

"We should have had a penalty. It was stonewall and just a yard from the additional assistant referee.

"But I am not going to harp on about decisions, because the match was lost before that.

"Out last six league matches will show me who wants to play for this club. Those going through the motions will not be here next season- and I mean that."

Portadown manager Ronnie McFall: "We were outstanding in the first half. We scored three goals and could have had more.

"After that, it was just a case of seeing the game out."