Portadown produced a sterling second half come back on Friday night at the Newry Showgrounds to defeat promotion challengers Newry City AFC 2-1.
Ports manager Matthew Tipton only made one change to the previous weeks eleven that defeated Knockbreda with Liam McKenna coming in for the suspended Conall McGrandles.
In a first half of very few chances it was Newry City AFC who took the lead when Ports midfielder Stephen Teggart was adjudged to have fouled Mark Hughes in the box and he dusted himself off before converting the spot kick past Bobby Edwards on 18 minutes.
It wasn’t until just over the half hour mark when Portadown had their first chance of the game when Adam Salley got on the end of a Greg Hall cross but Salleys looping header lacked any power and was easily saved under the crossbar by Coleman in the Newry goal.
Newry City AFC had another half chance on 38 minutes when the ball broke to Thomas McCann in the box but his first touch was poor and it allowed Ports keeper Edwards to gather the ball at the feet of McCann.
BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP HALF TIME – NEWRY CITY AFC 0 PORTADOWN 1
Portadown came out in the second half and looked a completely different proposition from the team that had such a poor first 45 minutes and it was the Ports who had the first chance of the second half when captain Luke Wilson got on the end of a Chris Crane cross from the left but he got his free header all wrong sending it well wide. Portadown had further chances through Adam Salley whose shot from distance went well over and a Paul Finnegan header from a McKenna free kick which was straight at Coleman.
Portadown were to grab a deserved equaliser on 59 minutes when Adam Salleys glancing header from Stephen Teggart cross found far bottom corner.
Adam Salley was to grab his and the Ports second goal to put them in the lead less than 10 minutes later when a deep free kick from Chris Crane was headed into the path of Callum Ferris in the box by Luke Wilson, Ferris seen his shot from close range saved by the legs of Newry keeper Coleman but Ports striker Salley was on hand to put the rebound into the net from 8 yards out to send the vocal Ports faithful into raptures.
Then came what is arguably the save of the season so far when Ports goalkeeper Edwards managed to produce a stunning save to turn away a headed effort from Mark Hughes from a Tiarnan Rushe cross. Hughes’s header was destined for the net with Edwards seemingly stranded at his near post when Hughes made contact with the ball but somehow he had the agility to get across to make a stunning diving save to palm the ball away at his far post with most of the Showgrounds fully expecting the net to bulge. A save that will be talked about at Shamrock Park and certainly Irish League circles for years to come.
Ports had a chance through Stephen Teggart to extend their lead on 84 minutes but Teggart’s well hit shot from distance and was straight at Coleman and he saved easily.
Newry’s last throw the dice came through a low free kick from Stephen McCavitt from around 25 yards out that went inches wide of Edwards near post but it wasn’t to be for Darren Mullen’s men with the Ports holding on to secure a vital three points.
BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP RESULT – NEWRY CITY AFC 1 PORTADOWN 2
Newry City: Coleman, King, Healy, Montgomery, Boyle, McCann, McCabe, Hughes, McGovern, McKeown, McArdle subs Rushe (replaced McArdle 76), Smith (not used), Moan (replaced King 60), S. McCavitt (replaced McCabe 56), Moller Nielsen (not used)
Portadown: Edwards, Hall, Crane, Finnegan, McKenna, Salley, Wilson, McNally, Ferris, Teggart, Bonis subs Duke (not used), Glackin (not used), Tipton (not used), Millar (not used), McCullough (not used)
Referee: Mark Dillon