Tim Mouncey handed Portadown’s push for European qualification a major boost with a late goal against title-chasing Crusaders.
The in-form midfielder made his mark on 84 minutes by attacking a drilled Sean Mackle cross, with the looping near-post header dropping into the far corner.
Crusaders started the first half with a period of pressure and the most promising opening arrived when Ken Oman’s attempted clearance was collected by Richard Clarke.
The midfielder’s low cross just evaded the efforts by Timmy Adamson to gain a decisive touch. Peter McMahon joined Gary Twigg in attack and the playmaker enjoyed a bright opening period.
McMahon managed to find a path into the penalty area at one point thanks to a combination of skill and good fortune but the final shot by Shea Conaty was blocked on the edge of the area.
Chris Casement’s free-kick from deep was then flicked on by Jordan Lyttle but Portadown failed to react in behind the Crusaders backline.
Oman and Lyttle formed a solid partnership in the heart of the backline, with Keith O’Hara playing the captain’s role from midfield.
Title-chasing Crusaders increased the pressure after the interval but Portadown worked hard to protect the clean sheet and restrict the visitors to speculative punts into the penalty area.
Portadown manager Ronnie McFall introduced teenage striker Marcio Soares past the hour mark in a bid to freshen the attacking options, with McMahon dropping back into midfield.
However, it proved a night of limited scoring opportunities for either side.
Mouncey’s goal handed Portadown control but a combination of Lyttle, Redman and the crossbar prevented the visitors from gaining an equaliser in the final moments.
PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Chris Casement, Ross Redman, Keith O’Hara, Peter McMahon, Sean Mackle, Tim Mouncey, Ken Oman, Gary Twigg, Shea Conaty, Jordan Lyttle. Subs: Darren Murray, Marcio Soares (on for Conaty, 65 mins), Christian Stewart, Paul McElroy, Jake Richardson.
CRUSADERS: Sean O’Neill, Billy Joe Burns, David Magowan, Timmy Adamson, Joshua Robinson, Declan Caddell, Barry Molloy, Craig McLean, Jordan Owens, Richard Clarke, Gavin Whyte. Subs: Nathan Hanley (on for Molloy, 78 mins), Paul Leeman, Diarmuid O’Carroll (on for Whyte, 86 mins), Stephen O’Flynn (on for McLean, 93 mins), Graeme McKibbin.
Referee: Raymond Hetherington.