Portadown suffered a double dismissal in the final moments of Saturday’s hard-fought derby draw with Dungannon Swifts.
Red cards for Robert Garrett and Chris Casement could prove a turning point in the Ports’ season, with the 1-1 draw a squandered opportunity to strengthen the club’s push for European qualification via the Danske Bank Premiership and Ronnie McFall’s men now facing the absence of two key men due to automatic suspension for next weekend’s Irish Cup semi-final.
Garrett was adjudged to have stamped on Dungannon Swifts’ Jamie Glackin on 89 minutes, with Casement then sent off for a headbutt on Terry Fitzpatrick following a conversation between referee Keith Kennedy and an assistant.
It proved a frantic finale to a derby full of spirit but lacking quality overall.
Gary Liggett - who started out with the Ports - headed the Swifts in front on 30 minutes inside a packed penalty area.
The Ports had wasted a golden opportunity early on when Sean Mackle’s cross was flicked on by Gary Twigg but the unmarked Casement struggled to take advantage.
Fitzpatrick’s header off a Ryan Harpur delivery was then blocked inside the packed box during the early exchanges before Liggett’s finish.
Portadown introduced Mark McAllister in the second half in a bid to improve the attacking options.
Garry Breen’s header off a Casement corner-kick dropped the wrong side of the post as Portadown pushed for a way back into contention.
It arrived on 63 minutes when Casement smashed home an angled drive beyond Alvin Rouse.
Jamie Douglas had one shot from distance flash past the post then he was unable to direct on target a low cross by Liggett.
The final opening arrived for Portadown when Gary Twigg whipped over a looping cross from the left but Sean Mackle’s shot was deflected wide by Harpur.
PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Chris Casement, Ross Redman, Garry Breen, Peter McMahon, Sean Mackle, Tim Mouncey, Ken Oman, Michael Gault, Gary Twigg, Robert Garrett. Subs: Billy Brennan, Chris Ramsey, Mark McAllister (on for Mouncey, 46 mins), Paul McElroy, Jake Richardson.
DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Alvin Rouse, Andrew Burns, Fra Brennan, Douglas Wilson, Jarleth O’Rourke, Matt Hazley, Jamie Glackin, Ryan Harpur, Terry Fitzpatrick, Gary Liggett, Jamie Douglas. Subs: David Armstrong, Stefan Lavery (on for Douglas, 84 mins), Andrew Mitchell, David McCullough (on for Hazley, 24 mins), Abby Sanusi.
Referee: Keith Kennedy.