Francis McCaffrey had to wait over five months for his first goal in Ballymena United colours - then found the net twice in five minutes against Portadown.
The former Glentoran man arrived at Ballymena Showgrounds in the summer as part of David Jeffrey’s rebuilding programme.
He made his mark on the scoresheet in style with a slick second-half double that served to cement Ballymena’s 2-0 victory and add to the misery of a Portadown side rooted to the bottom of the Danske Bank Premiership standings.
An early opening arrived for Ballymena United as Allan Jenkins rushed on to meet Cathair Friel’s cross but the ball bounced down and over the crossbar.
Portadown responded with a Brendan Shannon free-kick into the box which was cleared to outside the area and Mark Carson raced forward to smash a drive goalwards but on the rise.
Willie Faulkner’s inventive looping attempt off a chested pass by McCaffrey had Ports goalkeeper Chris McGaughey stepping back to control the threat.
A superb volley by Aaron Haire on 43 minutes marked the highlight of the first half as he enjoyed a crisp connection to Stephen Hughes’ flicked header but the powerful hit flashed the wrong side of the upright.
The game sparked into life on 58 minutes as Tony Kane’s curling cross was met by a sliding Alan Byrne in the box but his attempted clearance lacked a clean connection - with McCaffrey on hand to convert with a close-range finish.
His second, with the clock on 63 minutes, proved more memorable as he capped a flowing attack - started by Leroy Millar before Faulkner’s measured pass into the scorer’s path - with a superb finish into the corner.
McCaffrey walked off to a standing ovation on 78 minutes - with Ballymena confirming victory after the 90 mark.
BALLYMENA UNITED: Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Kyle Owens, Gavin Taggart, Allan Jenkins, Willie Faulkner, Cathair Friel, Jim Ervin, Leroy Millar, Francis McCaffrey, Adam McCracken. Subs: Ben McCauley, Matthew Shevlin (Lowry, 81), Neil Lowry (McCaffrey, 78), Kyle Mackie, Caolan Loughran.
PORTADOWN: Chris McGaughey, Mark Carson, Alan Byrne, Keith O’Hara, Garry Breen, Robert Garrett, Brendan Shannon, Tim Mouncey, Zac Wilson, Stephen Hughes, Aaron Haire. Subs: Matthew Parker, Sam Simpson (Mouncey, 71), Eoin Kirwan, Nathaniel Ferris (Z.Wilson, 62), Luke Wilson (Haire, 85).
Referee: Keith Kennedy.