Portadown took the derby day bragging rights on Saturday coming from behind to beat neighbours Loughgall 2-1 in this Bluefin Sport Championship top of the table clash at Shamrock Park.
Ports manager Matthew Tipton was forced to reshuffle his pack following injuries to Greg Hall and Marty Bradley in the previous Friday evenings victory over Ballyclare Comrades while Stephen Teggart was serving a one match suspension, in came Liam McKenna with Callum Ferris returning after missing the Ballyclare game due to international duty.
Ports had the first chance of the game when a deep free kick into the box from Liam McKenna found the head of Lee Bonis who nodded down for Adam Salley whose dink over the keeper from a tight angle was cleared off the line by Fra Brennan.
Loughgall’s John Scott tested Ports Bobby Edwards on 22 minutes when he reacted first to a defensive header from Ports centre back Paul Finnegan but his shot from just inside the box was palmed away by the Ports shot stopper then on 27 minutes a goal bound Nathaniel Ferris shot was blocked by Finnegan before Loughgall midfielder Stephen Ferguson fired over the bar.
There was to be controversy in the 34th minute when Nathaniel Ferris’s high challenge caught Paul Finnegan around the chest area with Ports players and supporters calling for a straight red for Ferris however the referee decided a yellow card was punishment enough.
Loughgall were to go close to taking the lead when a Dale Malone free kick into the Portadown box was headed away but only as far as Peter Campbell whose shot from an acute angle in the box had to be headed off the line and over the bar by Ports captain Luke Wilson.
Loughgall had another great chance to take the lead right on the stroke of half time when Peter Campbell picked up a loose ball before finding Jordan Gibson free at the edge of the box however Gibson’s first time shot went over the bar.
BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP HALF TIME – PORTADOWN 0 LOUGHGALL 0
Loughgall continued to look dangerous when the game resumed after half time and had an opportunity when Fra Brennan’s header back into the box after a defensive clearance following a Loughgall free kick found Peter Campbell free but Campbells shot lacked any real power and was straight at Edwards.
Loughgall were to take the lead on 53 minutes when Peter Campbell got in front of his marker Luke Wilson at the back post to stoop and head home following a Loughgall cross into the box.
Loughall were to have two further fantastic opportunities to extend their lead in quick succession, first on 62 minutes when Peter Campbell picked up a Jordan Gibson pass before breaking into the box however he sent his shot wide of Edwards left hand post and then a minute later Scott McCullough dragged his shot across the face of goal inches wide of the right hand post when he was slipped in by another Gibson pass.
Portadown were to grab an equaliser on 70 minutes when Loughgall keeper Buchanan raced out of his box to deal with a long ball however his headed clearance only fell to Ports substitute Aaron Duke whose looping header from outside the box went over the head of the backtracking Loughgall defender Lyttle and into the net.
The equaliser and introduction of Duke breathed new life into Portadown and they went close on 79 minutes to taking the lead when Lee Bonis got on the end of a looping Chris Crane cross into the box however Bonis was stretching to make contact and his header lacked power and was easily saved by the Loughgall goalkeeper.
Portadown were to grab the match winner on 84 minutes when a free kick from distance by Liam McKenna was touched onto the bar by a back pedalling Loughgall keeper Buchanan with Ports striker Duke reacting quickest to pick up the loose ball and square it back across goal to Conall McGrandles who was able to bundle the ball home from close range.
A fourth consecutive league victory for the Ports which sends them 5 points clear at the top of the Bluefin Sport Championship in what has been a testing month so far for Matthew Tipton’s men.
BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP RESULT – PORTADOWN 2 (Duke 70’, McGrandles 84’) Loughgall 1 (Campbell 53’)
Portadown: Edwards, Crane, Finnegan, McKenna, Salley, McGrandles, Tipton, Wilson, McNally, Ferris, Bonis subs Lavery (replaced Tipton 55), Duke (replaced Ferris 55), Glackin (not used), Carmichael (replaced Salley 79), McCullough (not used)
Loughgall: Buchanan, Kerr, Scott, Brennan, Lyttle, Ferguson, Malone, S. McCullough, Ferris, Gibson, Campbell subs Smith (not used), Hoey (replaced Malone 75), Dallas (replaced S. McCullough 67), Douglas (replaced Gibson 83), Rea (not used)
Referee: Declan Hassan
Match Sponsor – J.D Tipler
Match Ball Sponsors – Mackles / BPS Group / Gilford Chelsea Supporters Club / Jimmy Murray
PSS Man of the Match Sponsor – Dennis Davison Christmas Trees – AARON DUKE