Captain O’Hara protects Ports’ perfect start

Ronnie McFall. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Ronnie McFall. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Portadown posted a second 2-1 success inside five days to maintain the perfect start to the Danske Bank Premiership season at the expense of Warrenpoint Town.

Victory at Shamrock Park arrived thanks to two quickfire second-half goals from Gary Twigg and Keith O’Hara after the Ports entered the interval trailing to a spectacular Daniel Hughes drive.

Portadown dominated possession in the first half but lacked the energy and drive key to the weekend victory against defending champions Crusaders.

The first home sight of goal dropped for Twigg but he scooped over the bar off a Sean Mackle pass.

A foul on Chris Ramsey inside the penalty area then led to a penalty kick - Portadown’s second in as many games this season. However, with Darren Murray suspended, the responsibility went to Chris Casement but Jonathan Parr dropped to his right for a fine save.

Slick passing then carved open the visitors as Mackle spread play from the left and Peter McMahon fed the ball into the path of the supporting Casement.

The right-back’s shot on the run was saved but the resultant Ross Redman corner-kick caused problems, with headers by O’Hara and Garry Breen before goalkeeper Parr pushed the ball over his crossbar.

David Miskelly proved impressive on the opening day and added to that form by stopping a Stephen Hughes shot with an outstretched leg despite Breen blocking his line of sight.

Ramsey worked hard in midfield and headed wide off a Casement cross before slipping a measured pass into space for Redman and racing forward but missing out on a decisive touch on the delivery.

Warrenpoint grabbed the lead with a shock strike by Daniel Hughes. The striker’s initial free-kick was blocked but he reacted first to drill in the loose ball and hand the visitors control with the final kick of the first half.

Laurelvale’s Jordan Dane joined play for Warrenpoint as a second-half substitute.

The Ports’ search for a rapid response produced an equaliser inside the first two minutes of the second half as Dermott McVeigh’s underhit backpass was poked home by the alert Twigg.

It was 2-1 on 52 minutes thanks to Redman’s corner-kick and a close-range header from captain O’Hara.

Portadown appeared comfortable but the slender lead offered Warrenpoint hope of late drama and Stephen Hughes fired goalwards on the turn but Miskelly proved in the right place to collect.

Miskelly pulled off two last-gasp saves - the first to divert a deflected Daniel Hughes attempt before an acrobatic effort to claw away Sean Donnelly’s curling attempt.

PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Chris Casement, Ross Redman, Keith O’Hara, Chris Ramsey, Garry Breen, Peter McMahon, Sean Mackle, Gary Twigg, Tim Mouncey, Robert Garrett. Subs: Billy Brennan, Ken Oman, Jake Richardson, Christian Stewart, Marcio Soares (on for McMahon, 72 mins).

WARRENPOINT TOWN: Jonathan Parr, Darren King, Mark Hughes, Dermot McVeigh, Stephen Moan, John McGuigan, Stephen Hughes, Daniel Hughes, Shane Dolan, Liam Bagnall, John Boyle. Subs: Jordan Dane (on for King, 46 mins), David Anderson, Sean Donnelly (on for Moan, 74 mins), Mark McCabe (on for Dolan, 60 mins), Padraig Smith.

Referee: Steven Gregg.