Ronnie McFall bemoans injuries as Portadown draw to Ballymena United
Ballymena 1 - Portadown 1
Captain Allan Jenkins earned Ballymena United a point from a game which both managers claimed their own team could have won but leaves them looking upwards rather than nervously over their shoulders in the bottom half of the table.
United now have a four point cushion over ninth place Ballinamallard, though their next two leagues games will provide the ultimate test with visits to the top two, Crusaders and Cliftonville.
Portadown manager Ronnie McFall is still bemoaning his injury problems but this was only the third time this season they have taken points from two successive games and, as he admitted, they are starting to look like their old selves again.
"That run of results (six consecutive defeats) wasn't good but without making excuses we've had players who are not 100%," he said.
"We are waiting on an MRI scan for Peter McMahon, who hasn't been fit all season, Keith O'Hara has a hip problem, David Miskelly has a knee problem, Mark McAllister has a back problem, as has Gary Twigg and, with the squad we have, we haven't much depth.
"That's why we had to start with Chris Casement out wide right, because we are short of wide players. O'Hara had to play even though he was injured."
Glenn Ferguson scoffed at his opposite number's plight and said: "I would love to have his lack of depth! Peter McMahon was the only player I saw who was missing from his first choice line-up and if you are injured you shouldn't be playing.
"With no disrespect to our squad, we don't have the real top quality, top end players - we can't afford those. We have to get the best out of our good players and convince them to believe in themselves."
Jenkins popped up with the 77th minute equaliser and if Matthew Tipton had got a touch to substitute Mark Magennis's superb cross in injury time, the home could team would have won it.
But that would have been unfair on Portadown who had led for the previous 22 minutes through Sean Mackle's brave header, while Ken Oman also hit the crossbar and Dwayne Nelson produced the save of the game to deny Twigg.
BALLYMENA: Nelson, Ervin, Taylor, Rodger, McBride, Kane, Jenkins, Thompson, Cushley, Tipton, Shevlin (Magennis, 66 mins).
Portadown: Miskelly, Casement (Mouncey, 82 mins), Oman, O'Hara, Redman, Ramsey, Garrett, Gault, Mackle, Murray (McAllister, 89 mins), Twigg.
Man of the match: Ken Oman
Match rating: 7/10
Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)