Portadown’s return to the Mid-Ulster Cup finished tonight (Tuesday) at the semi-final hurdle as Gary Liggett scored against his former club to send Dungannon Swifts into next month’s showpiece.
Portadown handed starting spots to Chris Casement, Robert Garrett, Darren Murray and Ken Oman with one eye on forthcoming Danske Bank Premiership and Irish Cup concerns.
However, the Ports also included a number of the next generation - in keeping with the policy of the club in the Mid-Ulster Cup competition.
Paul McElroy, who started his career with Dungannon Swifts ahead of a cross-water switch, attacked along the left early on before the promising move broke down on the edge of the area.
A counter-attack featured Murray and Marcio Soares in space against a sole Swifts defender but the former’s low cross towards the latter failed to find the target.
The Swifts grabbed a goal on 39 minutes when Jamie Douglas’ cross from the left was converted with a close-range finish by Liggett.
Pauddy Judge fired a curling shot wide of the target at the back post as Portadown pushed in search of a way back into the tie.
The final shot of the half arrived off Douglas but his long-range strike drifted over the target.
The Swifts had Portadown on the backfoot after the break when efforts arrived in quick succession by Douglas, Andrew Burns and Terry Fitzpatrick.
Dungannon came close to a second goal when Douglas flashed a low angled drive just past Billy Brennan’s far post.
Substitute Jamie Haughey released a shot from outside the area past the hour mark following clever link-up play between Murray and Casement.
The impressive Haughey split the Swifts backline with a measured sliderule pass that Murray collected during increased home pressure. The striker turned and attacked from the right but Alvin Rouse dropped low to save the resultant shot.
A Portadown penalty shout was waved away when captain Jordan Lyttle fed the ball goalwards after Rouse punched out a long-range free-kick from Casement.
Judge then displayed impressive control outside the box and released a volley but Rouse proved in position to collect.
PORTADOWN: Billy Brennan, Chris Casement, Christian Stewart, Jordan Lyttle, Jake Richardson, Paul McElroy, Pauddy Judge, Marcio Soares, Darren Murray, Robert Garrett, Ken Oman. Subs: Jamie Haughey (on for Garrett, 46 mins), Nedas Maciulatis (on for Soares, 81 mins), Zak Wilson (on for McElroy, 25 mins), Mark Whitten, John Gibson.
DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Alvin Rouse, Andrew Burns, David Armstrong, Douglas Wilson, Jarlath O’Rourke, Terry Fitzpatrick, Ronan Young, Jamie Glackin, Gary Liggett, Jamie Douglas, Ryan Harpur, Grant Hutchinson (on for Harpur, 65 mins), David McCullough, Andrew Mitchell (on for Douglas, 70 mins), Stefan Lavery (on for Liggett, 76 mins), Fra Brennan.