Portadown moved 4 points clear at the top of the Bluefin Sport Championship on Saturday with a hard fought 1-0 win over the PSNI at the Dub.
Portadown had an early chance through Paddy McNally from a George Tipton corner however McNally’s header was deflected off the knee of PSNI captain Stuart Hutchinson and into the arms of the grateful di Giorgio in the PSNI goal. Tipton was to be the provider again minutes later when his dinked cross into the box was met by the head of Adam Salley however Salley’s header lacked any power and the PSNI goalkeeper was able to easily save low down at his near post.
Portadown were to be reduced to ten men just after the half hour when the referee judged that Chris Crane’s challenge on Nathan O’Neill was two footed and reckless and showed Crane a straight red.
Ports midfielder Tipton was continuing to be the main architect in the midfield for Matthew Tipton’s men and it was again a set piece from him which led to another half chance for Portadown when a stooping Paul Finnegan got on the end of his ball into the box but again the PSNI keeper was able to easily save.
PSNI’s first real chance of the game fell to their ace marksman Tony Tumelty in the final minutes of the first half when his shot from the edge of the box produced a fantastic diving save from Ports shot stopper Bobby Edwards to turn the ball over the bar however much to the bemusement of all in the Dub the officials gave a goal kick.
HALF TIME – PSNI 0 PORTADOWN 0
The PSNI were to have the first real chance of the second half when Tony Tumelty got on the end of a flick at the edge of the box from a team mate but his half volley lacked any power and was easily gathered by Edwards.
The 53rd minute was to be a pivotal moment in the game as the all action Marty Bradley was to come off the Portadown bench to replace Adam Salley and it didn’t take long for Bradley to get into the game as a quick thinking free kick from Tipton who slid the ball down the right hand side of the box to find Bradley who’s low shot had to be scrambled away at his near by the PSNI keeper. Bradley was again to test di Giorgio minutes later as he picked up a throw in before turning and getting a powerful shot away from just outside the box which was straight at di Giorgio.
Bradley was again involved on the hour mark when Conall McGrandles done well to nip the ball off the PSNI winger in the right back position and release Lee Bonis down the right wing however Bradley miscontrolled his first touch from Bonis’s ball across the face of goal allowing Di Giorgio to slide out and claim the ball at Bradleys feet. Next it was Liam McKenna’s turn to test the PSNI keeper with di Giorgio diving to turn away his free kick from 25 yards out on 71 minutes.
Ports were to go close again not long after when a Tipton corner was met by the rising McNally, a recurring theme, whose header was deflected just wide of the PSNI right hand post and from the resulting corner McNally again was first to the ball with his header hitting the top of the PSNI bar and going over.
Ports inform striker Lee Bonis was to have the best chance of the game so far on 79 minutes when he capitalised on a flick on off a PSNI defender but delayed his shot in the box before seeing his eventual shot from an acute angle saved by the legs of Di Giorgio.
Portadown introduced the pacy Ryan Carmichael on 81 minutes and he was to use that pace to pick up a fantastic ball from deep in the Portadown half by Conall McGrandles to outpace the PSNI defence and go clean through down the left but his shot from the edge of the box was to be deflected agonisingly wide of the PSNI right hand post by di Giorgio however Portadown’s frustration was to soon turn to elation as from the resulting corner 3 minutes from time Paddy McNally rose highest to meet George Tipton’s corner from the right to head into the net and send the Ports faithful into raptures.
There was almost a final sting in the tail for the Ports when Ross Harland got on the end of a PSNI corner in the dying seconds only to see his header cleared off the line by the impressive Bradley with Bradley’s clearance bringing the full time whistle from the referee.
A hard fought victory for the ten man Ports as they secured their seventh league victory in a row.
PSNI: di Giorgio, MacLeod, Whittle, Harland, Ferguson, Hutchinson, Green, O’Neill, Tumelty, Martyn, Anderson subs Riddle (not used), Best (replaced Martyn 75), Gauthier (not used), Turk (not used), Moody (not used)