Portadown managed to banish the ghosts of previous visits to Dixon Park with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Ballyclare Comrades on Friday evening.
Ports boss Matthew Tipton made one change from team that beat Newry City AFC the previous Friday evening with Conall McGrandles coming back in after suspension and replacing Callum Ferris who was away on international duty with Northern Ireland U19s.
The first chance of the game fell to Portadown on 11 minutes when Stephen Teggart’s free kick from the left hand side caused all sorts of problems in the Ballyclare box with a last ditch challenge on Paul Finnegan denying him prodding the ball into an empty net from a few yards out before the ball broke to Adam Salley whose close range goal bound effort was blocked by Lee McCune.
Thomas Robinson had Ballyclare’s first chance of the game with a well hit shot from distance which Ports keeper Edwards was well positioned to claim and hold.
Portadown had another opportunity on 18 minutes when a free kick into the box from Liam McKenna resulted in a goal mouth scramble with Paul Finnegan and Adam Salley trying to force the ball home however the ball was eventually cleared for a corner with Portadown players protesting the ball had crossed the goal line before it was cleared.
Thomas Robinson went close again for Ballyclare just before the half hour when he picked up a poor clearance from Chris Crane before cutting into the box and getting a low shot away however Ports keeper Edwards was alert to get well down to gather.
On the half hour mark a looping cross into the Ballyclare box from Greg Hall caused problems for the goalkeeper when he spilled the ball with Luke Wilson first to react but Wilson’s shot was deflected by the defender taking the pace off the ball and allowing the keeper to save.
Portadown were to be dealt a blow on 38 minutes when Greg Hall appeared to hurt his groin while trying to keep the ball in at the corner flag, he was replaced by Marty Bradley with Luke Wilson reverting to right back.
Portadown were to take the lead on 40 minutes when a corner from the right from Liam McKenna was headed into the net from Conall McGrandles from close range to send a flurry of Ports supporters rushing to the front of the stand to celebrate the goal with McGrandles and his team mates.
BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP HALF TIME – BALLYCLARE COMRADES 0 PORTADOWN 1
Ballyclare Comrades were to dominate the second half in an effort to penetrate the resolute Portadown defence with Ciaran Dobbin having an effort after Thomas Robinson had went on a run and found Dobbin at the edge of the box however he failed to catch his low shot cleanly after turning Paddy McNally allowing Edwards to get down at his near post to gather the ball.
Adam Salley had one of Portadowns very few chances in the second half when he collected the ball from a throw in before turning his man and hitting a fierce shot from distance but McCauley in the Ballyclare goal was, like his Portadown counterpart in the first half, well positioned to catch the ball under his crossbar.
Ballyclare’s best chance of the game fell in the dying minutes when Adam Gray drilled a ball across the face of goal which Adamczyk failed to control with his back to goal with Ports defender Paddy McNally picking up the loose ball before clearing to safety.
BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP RESULT – BALLYCLARE COMRADES 0 PORTADOWN 1
Ballyclare Comrades: McCauley, McCune, McIlveen, Robinson, C. Dobbin, Tully, Malone, Gray, Henry, Doey, Donnelly subs Hegan, Nolan, McNeill, McCart, Adamczyk