If ever there was a harbinger of the approaching end of the football season, this dull, dour match at Shamrock Park was it.
Portadown were a long shot for the top six, but must have had the pending Irish Cup semi-final on their mind, while Ballymena went defensive, with the recent 7-0 drubbing by Glenavon still causing nightmares.
The first half was a write-off, the only talking point being the hail squalls that swept down from above. True, Portadown rattled the frame of the goal twice – Joe McNeill and Mark Patton being out of luck – but a Tony Kane 25-yard shot also scraped the crossbar at the other end.
United boss Glen Ferguson pointed out that his troops hadn't conceded a goal since the Glenavon debacle. But neither have they scored in those encounters, and the priority as the season fades out must be consistency.
Ports manager Ronnie McFall commented: "They played very defensively with 4-5-1, and while we broke them down we missed several chances. But it has to be said that the poor state of the pitch didn't help either side find the net – the pitch is an embarrassment."
The result means that Portadown have to catch up six points on Ballinamallard to creep into the top six, notwithstanding that the Mallards have a 12-goal advantage on the Ports. Not impossible, but highly improbable, with the split imminent.
Still, there's always that cup to consider, even if the league is long since gone.