Given the record of 11 goals conceded in the previous two games, Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Ballinamallard United could be described as one instance in which a zero within the scoreline is deemed a positive.
Defensive concerns led to changes by Ports manager Ronnie McFall - with Keith O’Hara and Jake Richardson at opposite ends of the career spectrum but both selected to help solve the backline woes.
Club captain O’Hara’s experience and communication skills helped ease any collective nerves and set the Ports on the path to a welcome clean sheet.
Eighteen-year-old Richardson - the grandson of long-serving team attendant Geordie - clocked up his first senior league minutes for the Ports and enjoyed an encouraging debut.
Portadown restricted the home threat and enjoyed the upper hand in terms of possession, although both sides had efforts bounce off the crossbar.
Gary Twigg’s header hit the frame of the goal in the second half, with Shea Conaty - another product of the youth system at Shamrock Park - steering the rebound wide of the post.
Ballinamallard finished frustrated as Mark Stafford’s header found the face of the bar.
Twigg tested Ballinamallard goalkeeper Feargal Murphy in the first half but Portadown’s disappointment extended to a late penalty appeal waved away and red card for Mark McAllister.
McAllister’s dismissal arrived with the final offence deemed for diving inside the penalty area during the closing stages.
PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Ross Redman, Keith O’Hara, Garry Breen, Peter McMahon, Mark McAllister, Michael Gault, Gary Twigg, Shea Conaty, Robert Garrett, Jake Richardson. Subs: Billy Brennan, Sean Mackle (on for Conaty, 70 mins), Tim Mouncey, Paul McElroy (on for McMahon, 73 mins), Jordan Lyttle.