Peter McMahon spent the summer as the subject of interest from rival Irish League clubs due to some sparkling moments since arriving at Portadown.
However, the playmaker also had his pre-season dominated by injury issues - with that sustained absence frustrating for the player and damaging to team prospects.
Those inside the Shamrock Park camp considered McMahon’s recovery from the treatment table in line with hopes of an upturn in form.
Team performance levels remain inconsistent but McMahon served up an example of his ability to turn a game with the decisive strike on Saturday against Ballymena United. McMahon steered a first-time drive home from outside the area after a clever flick by substitute Darren Murray off Gary Twigg’s pass.
It handed Portadown the lead for a third and final time - with Ken Oman’s header sparking an opening flurry of three goals inside 11 minutes.
Oman converted Ross Redman’s corner-kick with a near-post delivery to break the deadlock.
Ballymena hit back when Neal Gawley scored following good work between David Cushley and Gary Thompson.
It was 2-1 within seconds as Mark McAllister - on an impressive return to the starting line-up - won possession off defender Gareth Rodger then delivered a cross which Sean Mackle converted at the second attempt.
David Miskelly produced some fine saves, with Ballymena’s problems increased by the dismissal of Tony Kane for two bookings inside three minutes.
Ballymena ended the first half with an equaliser as a referee’s assistant adjudged Matthew Tipton’s shot to have crossed the line.
The second half failed to match the drama of the first - until McMahon grabbed the spotlight.
PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Chris Casement, Ross Redman, Keith O’Hara, Peter McMahon, Sean Mackle, Ken Oman, Mark McAllister, Robert Garrett, Gary Twigg, Michael Gault. Subs: Billy Brennan, Darren Murray (on for Mackle, 75), Garry Breen, Marcio Soares, Tim Mouncey.