Murray treble has Portadown storming towards top half
Lisburn Distillery 0 Portadown 5
Portadown showed they haven't given up on sixth place just yet by thumping bottom club Lisburn Distillery 5-0 at Ballyskeagh.
Darren Murray was the ace in the pack as the mid-Ulster side simply overwhelmed the Whites to move within three points of sixth placed Ballinamallard, who are still seven goals better off.
Portadown started off at a cracking pace, clearly intent on trying to claim a top six finish, notwithstanding Ballinamallard's six point lead and superior goal difference with the Fermanagh outfit having one more game to play.
And they took the lead on six minutes thanks to Murray, the former Newry and DC striker rising above the pack and his downward header going in off the base of the post.
The visitors almost made more inroads into their goal difference just six minutes later, Whites keeper Lee Windrum making a good double stop to keep out Murray again and then a follow up by former Whites player Mark Patton.
Patton then created Portadown's second when he cut inside and his cross was tucked home by Murray on 31 minutes.
Portadown played flowing football on a tacky surface and Windrum denied them again on 36 minutes when he did well to turn away a fierce drive from Kevin Braniff before saving another effort from Aaron Burns.
Distillery offered little, a tame header from Michael Halliday easily held by David Miskelly summing their half up.
Whites boss Tim McCann rang the changes with three substitutions at the break. It mattered little as Portadown surged forward.
Murray completed his hat-trick with the aid of a deflected shot on 51 minutes.
Chris Casement had a goal ruled out for off-side before Patton got to the bye-line and Sean Mackle tucked the cross home on 62 minutes.
Portadown's Chris Ramsey was stretchered off on 70 minutes.
Braniff finished off a Mackle cross 14 minutes from time. Two minutes from the end the crossbar was rattled by a Braniff penalty kick.
The defeat leaves the Whites eight points adrift at the bottom and the teams ironically meet again at the same venue on Saturday – as this tie was originally scheduled for December 22!
Lisburn Distillery: Windrum, Garrett (Smyth 46), Hunter, Simpson, Traynor, Davidson (Withers 46), McCann (Gordon 46), Melly, Forsythe, Boyd, Halliday. Subs: Harkness, Hughes.
Portadown: Miskelly, Mackle, Ramsey (Gartland 70), Breen, Burns, Murray (Leckey 64), Braniff, McNeill, Casement , McCafferty, Patton. Subs: McArdle, Burns, Stewart.
Referee: R Hetherington (Dungannon).