Portadown 2 Coleraine 0
This match summed up the Premiership’s yo-yo character, with erstwhile high-flyers Coleraine now down to fifth place and Portadown — not so long ago down among the dead men — knocking on the door of the top six.
Ports boss Ronnie McFall is delighted with his side’s progress.
“We had a bad start due to so many injuries, but now most of those players have recovered and we’re on the up and up, with six points from our two holiday matches,” he said.
“And with striker Gary Twigg (signed from Shamrock Rovers) available soon, things will continue to get better.
“Our defence is tightening up, too, with two clean sheets over the Christmas period.”
Oran Kearney, Coleraine manager, recalled that the Bannsiders had beaten Portadown 4-3 at Shamrock Park earlier in the season after being down 3-0 with 18 minutes on the clock.
He added: “We didn’t show that spirit in this one, and that was worrying.
“Maybe we just reacted badly by having so many matches over Christmas, but we’ll have to rediscover that spirit. We have the talent to get back up the table.”
Portadown deserved the points, repeating so much that was good in their 2-0 win over old foes Glenavon on Boxing Day, not least the opener on 39 minutes, a replica of the double act on Wednesday between provider Ross Redman and scorer Richard Lecky.
Redman, sent down the wing by Neil McCafferty, whipped in a perfect cross from the left for Lecky.
“It was a typical Ross wonder-cross, begging to be headed in. I could scarcely have missed. It’s my 50th goal for the Ports and I’m rather proud of that,” said Lecky.
Redman provided the second for fellow defender Brian Gartland on 53 minutes, floating in a free kick from just inside his own half and the unmarked Gartland whacked it home from 15 yards.
Coleraine keeper Michael Doherty made a superb double save from a Kevin Braniff penalty after Joe McNeill was fouled.