Belfast Telegraph

Portadown put a massive dent in Linfield's title bid

Portadown 2-1 Linfield

By Adrian Rutherford

A touch of the ex-factor saw Portadown end a six-game losing run as they dealt Linfield's title hopes a major blow.

Former Blues pair Mark McAllister and Philip Lowry struck in a spiky clash at Shamrock Park.

The Ports had not won a Premiership game since mid-December, but on a night when the form book was ripped up, David Healy's men slumped to their first league loss since a 2-0 defeat here in November.

The Ports led by two goals going into the final 10 minutes and seemed to be cruising to victory.

However, a two-minute lapse late on almost proved costly.

First, Ken Oman was sent off for a second booking. And when Matthew Clarke pulled a goal back soon afterwards, it left the Ports hanging on.

The home side led through a disputed 22nd minute penalty.

It followed a mistake from Mark Stafford, who allowed the ball to bounce on the edge of his box. As he tried to recover, he brought down Marcio Soares.

The referee pointed to the spot, angering the away fans.

Taking his kick in front of the Linfield fans, McAllister kept his cool and swept the ball home.

The penalty aside, the visitors had the best of the first-half.

After five minutes Kirk Millar crossed to the back post, but Ross Gaynor's strike was tipped wide by David Miskelly.

The goalkeeper then pulled off a fine save to beat away Paul Smyth's powerful effort.

Linfield started the second-half strongly and twice went close to levelling. First, Smyth's close-range snapshot was blocked, before Jimmy Callacher headed just wide.

The Ports almost doubled their lead in the 69th minute.

Ross Redman crossed to the far post where Chris Casement was waiting, but his volley was blocked by Sean Ward.

Linfield didn't heed the warning. Casement's free-kick picked out Lowry, who flicked a backward header into the net.

Oman's dismissal left the Ports a man short and it got nervier still when Clarke pulled a goal back in the 83rd minute.

Linfield threw players forward - including their goalkeeper - but the home side held on.

PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Casement, Redman, O'Hara, Ramsey, Oman, Mouncey, Gault, Soares, Lowry, McAllister. Subs not used: Marron, Parker, Withers, Judge, Brown

LINFIELD: Ross Glendinning, Reece Glendinning (Bates), Stafford (Burns, 33), Callacher, Ward, Clarke, Mulgrew, Gaynor, Millar (McLellan, 66), Smyth, Waterworth. Subs not used: Kee, Fallon.

Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)

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