PORTADOWN 1 CRUSADERS 3
Portadown suffered a fifth consecutive defeat as defending champions Crusaders left Shamrock Park with a 3-1 success.
News of the Board of Directors’ backing for manager Ronnie McFall was met by anger from a vocal section of the home crowd - but Darren Murray raced over to give his boss his backing after finding the net.
Crusaders took the lead on five minutes when Michael Carvill’s free-kick created confusion. Billy Brennan produced one save but Colin Coates reacted first to convert the loose ball and break the deadlock.
The Ports’ response featured key play by Sean Mackle as the midfielder came close on two occasions either side of a low cross which Murray directed at Sean O’Neill on the run.
A combination of Chris Casement and Brennan deflected wide a Jordan Forsythe effort to keep the deficit at a single goal.
Portadown then ended the half on a high note with an injury-time equaliser.
A counter-attack resulted in Peter McMahon picking up possession on the right and a low delivery was met by Murray - with this connection finding the net.
Garry Breen steered one header wide at the start of the second half but the next talking point handed Crusaders control.
Good work by Forsythe ended with a cross which Jordan Owens diverted towards the goal and Brennan was unable to keep out the header.
Portadown substitute Marcio Soares had Crusaders on the backfoot with a driving run but Coates recovered to divert the ball away with a sliding tackle.
Mackle then whipped in an inswinging cross from wide right which bounced off the crossbar.
Crusaders substitute Matthew Snoddy had a chance to wrap up the points but failed to steer Craig McLean’s cross on target from inside the box.
The final goal confirmed success for the visitors as Owens lifted a pass forward from midfield and Heatley pushed the ball past the advancing Brennan then slotted home into an empty net.
PORTADOWN: Billy Brennan, Chris Casement, Ross Redman, Chris Ramsey, Garry Breen, Peter McMahon, Sean Mackle, Darren Murray, Robert Garrett, Michael Gault, Jake Richardson. Subs: Keith O’Hara, Ken Oman, Marcio Soares (on for McMahon, 61 mins), Tim Mouncey, Matthew Parker.
CRUSADERS: Sean O’Neill, Billy Joe Burns, Jordan Owens, Michael Carvill, Colin Coates, Craig McLean, Paul Heatley, Jordan Forsythe, Richard Clarke, Declan Caddell, Cameron Stewart. Subs: Matthew Snoddy (on for Caddell, 46 mins), Gavin Whyte, Diarmuid O’Carroll, Stephen O’Flynn (on for Carvill, 73 mins), David Magowan (on for Stewart, 80 mins).
Referee: Arnold Hunter.