ARDS 3 PORTADOWN 2
Portadownfinally succumbed to relegation, when Niall Currie’s men slipped to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of his former club Ards.
Currie, who swapped Ards for Portadown for Ards in early December, fought valiantly against the drop, but their pre-season 12-point deduction eventually took its to toll on Easter Tuesday, as goals from David McAllister, Matthew Shevlin and Guillaume Keke gave Ards a narrow win.
Ards had the lead within three minutes of kick-off. Left-winger McAllister used his pace to burn away from the Portadown defence before drilling a low a 20-yard thunderbolt past Chris McGaughey.
Portadown equalised a minute before the half-time break. A fine Matt Hazley corner-kick found the head of the experienced Gary Breen, whose header found the net via a deflection.
Ards made a strong start to the second half, grabbling the lead in the 50th minute after a fine passing move. Kyle Cherry split the Portadown defence with a sweet through ball, that allowed Matthew Shevlin to round Breen before clipping the ball past McGaughey. The 18-year-old, on loan from Ballymena United, has scored in each of his last three games for Ballymena.
It was 3-1 to Ards in the 56th minute. Frenchman Guillaume Keke ghosted past the Portadown defence before slipped the ball past McGaughey from an acute angle. The former Larne striker has scored in each of the last four games.
Portadown pulled a goal back in the 65th minute when youngster Callum Ferris tucked away the penalty. The spot kick was awarded after Stuart McMullan pulled down Soares, with McMullan red carded for his troubles.
There was another red card when Sean Mackle of Portadown collected a red card after an incident spotted by the referee’s assistant.
Portadown pushed for an equaliser, but their battle on the night and against relegation was ultimately in vain.
Ards: Hogg; Hall, S. McMullan, Friars, Ruddy; McMillen, Cherry, McCullough, McAllister; Keke, Shevlin (67 Bradley)
Subs Not Used: Arthurs, Doherty, Hughes, G. McMullan
Portadown: McGaughey; Shannon, Larkin, Breen, O’Hara (60 Holmes); Gardiner (60 Ferris), Mackle, Garrett, Wilson, Hazley; Soares (81 Maciulatis)
Subs Not Used: Lyttle, Richardson
Ref: Andy Davey (Bangor)