Portadown are starting to hit their stride after Dungannon Swifts win, warns manager Ronnie McFall
Darren Murray's goal was an oasis of sheer brilliance in a mainly arid, lifeless match which Portadown deserved to win – but they should have triumphed by a bigger margin.
In a one-sided first-half, they missed three or four chances they should have put away.
True, Swifts keeper Andy Coleman made a trio of worthy saves, but they were the sort of stops that any goalie worth his salt should have dealt with as he kept the Swifts in the hunt.
The Ports' 31st minute goal was a gem.
Mark McAllister flashed the ball to Peter McMahon, who whipped in across the front of the goal and Murray dived in to power-head home, hard and low, giving Coleman no chance.
"Another one I'm proud of," the striker smiled as he left for the journey home.
The chances that went a-begging came from Murray (a couple), McMahon and Garry Breen, and the Ports could have rued their weak finishing when Dungannon came more into it after the half-timebreak.
Ports boss Ronnie McFall commented: "I suppose we made hard work of it, but we've registered three points, kept a clean sheet and we're still up among the leaders, so that's the name of the game. We started the season with five suspensions, several new signings and one or two injuries, so it's not been easy but we're settling well now and things are coming together.
"The team is beginning to gel well together, really getting into our stride, and that's five league games out of seven without defeat. I'm really optimistic about this team."
Dungannon manager Darren Murphy, though, was far from happy despite a battling performance from the visitors.
"People keep telling us we're playing well without getting the results, and I'm sick, sore and tired listening to that," he said.
"Our problem is that we have a sound defence, but a weak front line.
"Ten goals against is on par with the likes of Ballymena and Crusaders in the upper reaches of the table.
"But we're languishing in 10th position, with just five goals in seven matches – the worst-equal scoring record, along with bottom side Warrenpoint.
"True, we beat leaders Glenavon earlier on and if only they'd show that sort of form more often, we wouldn't be struggling, with four defeats in a row.
"The forwards need to ask themselves why. They just don't have the right aggression.
"Portadown were the better team in the first-half, but thanks to our super defensive display – with Fra Brennan in great form – we held them 1-0 by half-time and matched them after the break. But that simply isn't good enough."
The match entered the doldrums in the second-half, with David Miskelly saving from Swifts substitute Andy Mitchell at his near post and man of the match McMahon hitting the side netting at the other end.
But Mitchell should have levelled it two minutes from time, when he was one-on-one with David Miskelly, thanks to a dream pass from Andrew Burns. But the big Ports keeper spread himself superbly to parry the effort and secure victory for his side.