Glenn Ferguson rages at ref as McMahon magic seals points for Portadown
Portadown 3-2 Ballymena United
Are referees now punishing players for showing intuition?
That's the question Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson is posing after Tony Kane was dismissed at Portadown.
'Spike' was left feeling hot under the collar when defender Tony Kane was booked by ref Raymond Hetherington for taking a free kick before the referee's whistle.
His second caution for an aerial challenge on Michael Gault resulted in a second yellow and ultimately a red card, the fourth shown to a United player this season.
"It was disgusting," fumed Ferguson.
"Tony was only using his initiative to try and make the game flow by taking the kick quickly. Are referees trying to take that intuition out of the game?"
Ballymena have not won at Shamrock Park since December 2003.
Their previous 15 visits had all ended winless but they ran the Ports close even when their numbers were reduced.
Ferguson, who has collected the Manager of the Month award for September, said: "I have to give credit to our lads.
"They kept on right to the end with 10 men against a good Portadown team with good players."
Peter McMahon's touch of class helped the Ports snatch success and even Ferguson conceded it was a super goal to settle the outcome.
McMahon flashed a first-time shot beyond keeper Dwayne Nelson with the outside of his right boot from outside the area after a clever Mark McAllister flick from Gary Twigg's searching pass.
"It was a great finish," said Ferguson.
"It was heart-breaking for us but you have to admire the quality of the strike."
United have now lost successive games after an unbeaten run of six.
Conversely, Portadown, who had to wait two months for their second league success at Carrick last weekend, have now chalked up successive wins to open up a four-point gap between themselves and seventh placed Glentoran in the table.
Ken Oman's early headed goal was cancelled out instantly by United's Neal Gawley.
But Mark McAllister robbed dithering Gareth Rodger on the by-line to cut the ball back for Sean Mackle to convert after his initial shot was blocked.
Kane picked up two bookings inside as many minutes but 10-man Ballymena finished the first half with an injury-time equaliser confirmed by the referee's assistant after former Ports favourite Matthew Tipton's ground shot was ruled to have crossed the crowded line despite the protestations of home defenders.
However, McMahon had the final say to seal victory for the hosts with a smashing drive seven minutes from the end.
PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Casement, Redman, O'Hara, McMahon, Mackle (Murray, 75 mins), Oman, McAllister, Garrett, Twigg, Gault. Unused subs: Brennan, Breen, Soares, Mouncey
BALLYMENA: Nelson, T Kane, Rodger, Taylor, Ervin, Gawley (McBride, 38 mins [McVey, 52 mins]), Thompson, Jenkins, Faulkner (Henderson, 86 mins), Cushley, Tipton. Unused subs: Magennis, Henderson, Ferguson.
Man of the Match: Peter McMahon
Match rating: 8/10
Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)