James McKenna kills off Portadown and gives Ballinamallard a timely lift
Ballinamallard 1-0 Portadown
James McKenna struck the only goal of the game as Ballinamallard United secured a vital three points in the battle to avoid relegation with a 1-0 win over Portadown.
McKenna found the net after 67 minutes with a superb low finish and it proved decisive in the end as the Mallards held on for all three points.
The win moves Whitey Anderson's side four points clear of Warrenpoint Town and keeps them in front of Dungannon Swifts and Carrick Rangers in a tight battle at the bottom.
It was Ballinamallard who made the brighter start to the contest although having got into some good positions the final ball at times let them down and they failed to take advantage.
However, the home side were to have a lucky escape at the other end of the pitch when goalkeeper Alvin Rouse nearly got in a tangle as Chris Casement looked to latch on to a Sean Mackle through ball.
Rouse was fortunate to see the ball break his way on the edge of the box before clearing the danger. It was Portadown who were the closest to breaking the deadlock as Sean Mackle rattled the underside of the crossbar in the 28th minute.
Mackle was presented with the opportunity following good work by Mark McAllister on the right. Marcio Soares also had a good chance for the Ports but he hit the side-netting when well placed.
The home side did have chances of their own as the half drew to a close as Ryan Mayse fired a snap shot over the bar from the edge of the box.
Ivan Sproule forced keeper David Miskelly into a save at his near post with a rasping drive from an acute angle.
The second half saw chances arrive at either end with Miskelly saving an Emmett Friars header from a Sproule corner before Soares had two good opportunities to put the visitors ahead.
The striker looked sure to score as he went past a stranded Rouse who had raced outside his box, but Soares was crucially held up by Jake Dykes before Friars made a crucial interception. And soon after Soares did well to create shooting space in the box but his drive was superbly saved by Rouse.
It looked like a solitary goal would be decisive and so it proved.
The only goal of the game came in the 67th minute and it went to the home side as McKenna slotted home from close range after Sproule had hit the post. Portadown had the chance to grab an instant reply but Rouse produced another stop to push away Casement's effort.
Sproule and Ryan Campbell had chances to add to the Mallards lead late on but neither could find the target.
However the Mallards saw out the remainder of the game to claim a crucial three points.
A big win for the hosts and it was a good response for the Mallards after Friday's 3-0 loss to Warrenpoint.