Ballinamallard United 1
Ballinamallard United fans will only be able to enjoy Adam Lecky for another few days but the Australia-bound striker delivered what could prove a perfect parting gift in his club’s battle to beat the drop.
Lecky, who heads away on January 10, made his mark with the only goal of this tussle between two sides struggling for points - with Ballinamallard now five clear of Carrick and 15 in front of basement-based Portadown.
It handed Ballinamallard a memorable finish to 2016 despite an evening which turned sour for the home side on 31 minutes with a red card for Ross Taheny.
The Ports’ confidence increased as play progressed, with Aaron Haire’s flick finding Stephen Hughes inside the area but goalkeeper Cameron Crawford produced a smart block.
The subsequent corner-kick delivery by Brendan Shannon dropped over Crawford’s grasp and bounced off Keith O’Hara then rolled the wrong side of the post.
A counter-attack by Portadown featured Mark McAllister and Robert Garrett on the break before the latter’s pass sent Haire on the path to goal.
A sliding challenge by Taheny stopped the away striker outside the box.
Consultation by referee Lee Tavinder with his assistant led to a red card - with Ryan McConnell initially paying the price before a correction by the match official led to Taheny’s exit.
The Ballinamallard response against bottom-placed Portadown provided a goal on 36 minutes.
Lecky smashed goalwards a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area and the low, curling drive caught out Chris McCaughey and found the net via the inside of the upright.
The second half lacked the flow of the first as Ballinamallard posed a constant threat on the break in the face of Portadown’s attempts to get back into contention.
Garrett was released along the right and his low cross eventually found Hughes with his back to goal and the lay-off was fired over the crossbar by centre-back Alan Byrne.
Hughes then attacked the penalty area but could only find the legs of Crawford with his low angled shot.
Substitute Nathaniel Ferris fired high and wide off Shannon’s cutback.
An injury-time clearance by substitute Callum Frempong prevented Hughes from forcing home Garry Breen’s low cross and the game was over.
BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: Crawford, Taheny, McCabe (Frempong, 78), McGinty, McKenna, Lafferty, McCartney, McConnell, Lecky, Mayse (Owens, 87), McIlwaine. Subs: McGrath, Crilly, Elliott, Frempong. PORTADOWN: McGaughey, Shannon, Breen, Byrne, O’Hara, Parker (Ferris, 85), Henderson (Wilson, 42), Garrett, Hughes, McAllister, Haire (Brown, 68). Subs: C.Larkin, R.Larkin.