More eligibility issues cast shadow over Portadown victory
Portadown 2-1 Ballinamallard United
If the various issues surrounding Portadown have hurt the club's image, fans will be relieved to see that they apparently haven't affected their on-field performance.
The Ports - who are appealing their 12-point deduction after a breach of registration rules with regard to Peter McMahon - looked in good shape as they recorded a 2-1 victory over Ballinamallard at Shamrock Park.
However, the game was once again overshadowed by controversy as Ports captain Ken Oman and Keith O'Hara both had to withdraw from the squad due to concerns over their eligibility.
Oman and O'Hara were registered by the IFA as new signings, leaving Portadown unsure whether they could play while the club's appeal against their transfer embargo for making undisclosed payments to players is in progress.
"I'm not even going to talk about that," manager Pat McGibbon said after the game. "The most important thing for me is to concentrate on the football.
"It does (affect our preparations). When you're trying to prepare for games and you've got your captain and vice captain missing, it's difficult.
"I would like to hope it'll be resolved soon, we need some clarification. We tried to get it before the game but it never came."
In the end, the duo's absence wasn't felt as Garry Breen opened the scoring in the first-half before Mark McAllister scored the winner as the Ports opened their campaign - Saturday's tie against Coleraine was postponed - on a positive note.
Shane McGinty had headed in an equaliser early in the second-half for the visitors, but they were guilty of spurning some excellent late chances.
Sean Mackle was superb for the home side, and he was unlucky not to score in the opening few minutes when he saw a 30-yard piledriver sail just wide.
Instead it was up to Breen to give the hosts the lead, heading home Niall Henderson's perfect delivery from the left, after a dominant first-half performance.
But after the break the visitors were a much improved side and they equalised in the 51st minute when Jason McCartney broke away and crossed perfectly to McGinty, who headed home.
But for all their pressing, Ballinamallard couldn't make their possession count and they were made to pay when a long ball from Tim Mouncey split their defence and McAllister raced through and slotted home.
That was to prove the decisive goal, as the Mallards found themselves guilty of some slack finishing in the final few moments that could have given them a share of the spoils.
Portadown: Miskelly, Shannon, Parker, Breen, Mouncey, Garrett, Henderson, Hughes (Carson 84), McAllister, Kirwan (Simpson 64), Mackle. Subs not used: McGaughey, Haire, Withers.
Ballinamallard: McGrath, Elliott, Morris, Taheny, McConnell, Lafferty (McElwaine 84), McGinty, Lecky, McCabe, McKenna (Feeney 76), McCartney. Subs not used: McCusker, Mayse, Currie.
Match Rating: 7/10 Man of match: Sean Mackle Referee: Raymond Heatherington