Ports close in on Glens with upper hand in eight-goal thriller

Gary Twigg. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Gary Twigg. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Gary Twigg kicked off and closed the scoring in an eight-goal Shamrock Park thriller that helped in-form Portadown cut the gap on visitors Glentoran.

The slick 5-3 triumph handed Portadown a final boost on home soil in 2015 that left the Danske Bank Premiership deficit at three points.

Suspensions forced the Ports into a defensive reshuffle, with Tim Mouncey lining out alongside Keith O’Hara in the heart of the backline.

Chris Ramsey held on to his starting spot at right-back and Chris Casement’s advanced role led to the opening goal with a drilled cross which Twigg converted thanks to a sliding close-range finish.

A deflection left Glentoran level as Marcus Kane’s long-range drive looped over David Miskelly on 10 minutes.

The free-flowing fixture turned in the favour of the visitors when Jonathon Smith’s knockdown inside the box dropped for an unmarked Curtis Allen to sidefoot home.

Portadown took advantage of a Glentoran lapse in concentration before the half-hour mark.

Niall Henderson’s blind backpass proved too short. The alert Darren Murray managed to latch on to the loose ball and the striker produced a delicate chip over Elliott Morris.

The Ports entered half-time with the upper hand thanks to a fine strike from Robert Garrett. The midfielder attacked the Glentoran backline and worked space outside the area before drilling a low shot inside the post beyond Morris’ full-length dive to the right.

The second half served up similar excitement across the opening exchanges when two goals arrived inside three minutes.

Murray doubled his tally for the evening by bustling down the left wing, cutting inside and curling goalwards a low shot which squirmed under the body of Morris and over the line.

The home celebrations were cut short by a third Glentoran goal moments later as Allen matched Murray’s brace on the night with a back-post header after Portadown struggled to deal with a deep throw-in.

Twigg had the final say on 72 minutes by smashing home a spectacular left-foot volley that doubled his delight on the night and handed the Ports a decisive win.

PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Chris Casement, Ross Redman, Keith O’Hara, Chris Ramsey, Sean Mackle, Darren Murray, Gary Twigg, Tim Mouncey, Michael Gault, Robert Garrett. Subs: Billy Brennan, Mark McAllister, Marcio Soares, Matthew Parker, Jordan Lyttle.

GLENTORAN: Elliott Morris, Marcus Kane, Jay Magee, Curtis Allen, Fra McCaffrey, Niall Henderson, Steven McCullough, Steven Gordon, Patrick Cafolla, Jonathon Smith, Johnny Addis. Subs: Aaron Hogg, Ciaran Caldwell (on for McCaffrey, 54 mins), David Fearon, Karl Hamill (on for Smith, 80 mins), Conor McMenamin (on for Cafolla, 68 mins).

Referee: Tim Marshall.