Jamie Douglas’ dramatic double left Portadown celebrating Boxing Day derby delight with a thrilling 2-1 triumph over Loughgall.
It proved honours even until the final 20 minutes as Loughgall broke the deadlock but Douglas made his mark on two occasions in the closing eight minutes for home success.
Portadown recovered from a second-half setback to bag both plaudits and points.
His first a close-range strike to cap strong work from Sean Mackle before Chris Lavery’s cross created problems in the penalty area and Douglas delivered a composed sidefoot shot.
The derby rivals entered the Shamrock Park showpiece on level terms in the Bluefin Sport Championship league table and little divided the rivals before the break.
The tentative start featured probing and pressing by the Ports as Loughgall were looking to test the hosts on the counter-attack.
The first significant sight of goal arrived off a set-piece situation when Mackle’s curling delivery from the left into the danger area was met on the run by Ross Larkin but the teenage defender’s volley cleared the crossbar.
Another Ports teenager, Ryan Carmichael, injected a spark into the festive fun by showing determination to win a loose ball then drive to attack along the right.
A cynical foul cut short Carmichael’s progress, with Gareth Buchanan down low to collect the subsequent free-kick by Douglas low towards the near post.
Nathaniel Ferris and Peter Campbell both spent time on the Portadown books as youth players and combined to create problems for the hosts as the former’s clever control and pass was picked up by the latter but the defence regrouped to stop short the forward threat.
A back-tracking Declan Dunne managed to get a glove to push away a looping delivery by another former Portadown player, David McCullough.
Dunne enjoyed a more prosaic save soon after off Ferris’ header under pressure but Marc McConnell could claim credit for persistent play across the edge of the area from right to left to keep alive the Loughgall momentum before whipping over a teasing cross.
Campbell then picked out Ferris inside the box inside the opening minutes of the second half and the striker’s curling effort had Dunne making a dive but it drifted outside the upright.
Jamie Rea’s crucial interception cut out a slick Mackle cross from the right after a swift break involving Douglas and Adam Salley.
Loughgall enjoyed a period of pressure off set-piece play, with McConnell creating problems but Portadown managed to survive thanks to one clearance off the line and another by Gregg Hall over his own target.
Ross Larkin could then only watch when Graeme Taylor’s speculative shot from distance deflected off the centre-back and crept past the post.
Loughgall enjoyed a post-Christmas present to break the deadlock on 69 minutes as a challenge for possession outside the area resulted in a deflection that dropped beyond Dunne - with the visitors’ skipper, Steven Ferguson, appearing to gain the vital touch.
However, Portadown managed to turn the tables with a dramatic final flourish.
A minute’s silence was observed ahead of kick-off in memory of Billy McClatchey and Tommy ‘Gowser’ Lavery.
McClatchey holds the unique honour of having served both Portadown and Glenavon in the roles of coach and manager. Lavery was a long-term Ports supporter.
PORTADOWN: Dunne, McCallum, Larkin (Neill, 90), Salley (Lavery, 64), Hall, Thompson, Wilson, Carmichael, Mackle, Douglas, Storey.
Subs (not used): Blair, Carson, Tipton.
LOUGHGALL: Buchanan, McVeigh, Rea, Taylor, Stewart, Gibson, McCullough, Ferguson, Ferris (Liggett, 82), McConnell, Campbell.
Subs (not used): Hoey, Mullen, Bell, Smith.