Ports save the best for last day of league season to forget

Portadown players celebrate Matthew Parker's goal against Ballymena United. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Portadown players celebrate Matthew Parker's goal against Ballymena United. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
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After 37 games of limited highs, lengthy lows and lasting frustration, Portadown produced one final performance of pride and passion on Saturday to salvage senior status.

Goals by Ken Oman and Matthew Parker - two of the positives from a campaign to forget - provided the vital points tally required to take the Shamrock Park side away from the relegation zone.

Concerns entering kick-off of a Ballymena United side boasting too much in pursuit of the European play-off place were dismissed when Oman broke the deadlock late in the first half.

Parker’s second-half finish from inside the area wrapped up the points and a welcome reward for a performance provided by energy and effort.

Oman headed home a Parker free-kick to handed the Ports a vital boost before the break.

Parker turned from provider to scorer in the second half by forcing home a loose ball. Soares’ footwork left Ballymena on the backfoot but his close-range flick bounced off the post but into the path of Parker.

Clear sights of goal proved limited across the match but the increased application on show helped Portadown protect the advantage.

McGibbon had his position as permanent manager confirmed just days before the closing weekend of the season and opted to field two teenage strikers in attack at Ballymena.

The combination of Soares and Nathaniel Ferris offered a constant threat to the Ballymena backline and welcome outlet for Portadown team-mates, with the latter especially impressive.

PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Ken Oman, Garry Breen, Chris Casement, Matthew Parker, Robert Garrett, Michael Gault, Sean Mackle, Tim Mouncey, Marcio Soares, Nathaniel Ferris. Subs: Martin Marron, Ross Redman, Gary Twigg, Mark McAllister (on for Ferris, 90 mins), Jake Richardson.