Belfast Telegraph

Ports crash at Point

Warrenpoint Town 2-1 Portadown

By Gareth McCullough

Portadown spurned the opportunity to go five points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership after they were deservedly beaten by bottom side Warrenpoint Town at Milltown last night.

Ciaran O'Connor struck twice in the first half for Barry Gray's basement battlers and they withstood the expected Ports pressure late on after Garry Breen had pulled one back for the visitors midway through the second half.

Warrenpoint had most of the ball in the opening exchanges and almost took the lead as early as the fourth minute. A swift break from saw Stephen Hughes sweep the ball to O'Connor and the striker, on-loan from Dundalk, lashed in a fierce drive that appeared to come off the inside of the right hand post.

Breen then did excellently to block Stephen Moan's follow-up from close range.

After Ports winger Peter McMahon glanced a header wide of the right hand post, Gray's men hit the woodwork for the second time from Mark Hughes' curling effort from 22 yards.

But, it didn't take long for Point to take a deserved lead on 20 minutes.

The lively Stephen Hughes wriggled into space down the right byline before drilling a low ball across the six-yard box and past the keeper where the unmarked O'Connor was on hand to sidefoot into the empty net.

The visitors nearly levelled four minutes later when McMahon crashed in a stinging volley from inside the box on the right that was batted away by Parr for a corner and the same player than poked his first time effort just wide from Ross Redman's cross.

The Shamrock Park men finally applied some real pressure and should have equalised on 33 minutes with captain Gary Twigg having two glorious opportunities in quick succession.

He failed to get a good connection after a McMahon break, that allowed Parr to get a foot on it to save and then when the ball spilled to Chris Casement on the left his lobbed ball in found Twigg unmarked but the Scot headed wide when he should have done better.

After Sean Mackle had shot straight at Parr a minute later when well placed, Warrenpoint had a glorious opportunity to double their lead nine minutes before the interval.

Stephen Hughes did well to play in O'Connor and while his low effort beat the advancing Miskelly, it rolled agonisingly wide of the post.

But, four minutes before the interval, Warrenpoint did double their lead. This time it was Daniel Hughes who crossed from the right and O'Connor was unmarked to guide his header back across goal and past Miskelly.

They could have made it three a minute into stoppage time at the end of the half when Daniel Hughes nipped inside Breen but his close range shot from a tight angle hit the legs of Miskelly before being scrambled away.

After Mackle and Daniel Hughes had gone close in the early stages of the second period, Warrenpoint were denied what looked to be a clear penalty when O'Connor sidestepped Chris Ramsey only to appear to be tripped by the defender, but referee Colin Burns was unmoved.

The Ports gave themselves a lifeline as they halved the deficit when Casement curled in a precision free-kick and Breen climbed highest to power a header past Parr.

But it was the hosts had the best of the remaining chances on 76 minutes when Darren King headed over from Mark Hughes' corner.

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