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Braniff’s brace sends Institute bottom

Neither side had much cause to rejoice after this one, with Institute sinking to the bottom of the league table and Portadown’s top-six aspirations still undecided.

Kevin Braniff turned in a two-goal five-star showing, but the |1-1 draw between Dungannon Swifts and Coleraine at Stangmore means the Ports will require at least a point at Coleraine next Tuesday.

And with Distillery beating Newry City, the danger signs are up for ‘Stute as the drop to the Championship looms larger.

Portadown suffered a blow after just two minutes when lively young striker Jordan Baker sustained a shoulder injury and was rushed off to hospital. But his stand-in Richard Lecky propelled the Ports into the lead.

It was a brilliantly-worked goal on 21 minutes, starting with a Braniff free kick. When everyone expected him to have a shot from 20 yards, he sent Owen Morrison away on the left with an intelligent reverse pass and the ex-Sligo Rovers man crossed for big Lecky to nod home off a post.

However, the lead lasted just four minutes when a slack piece of defending let in Tony Shields to scramble home a Kevin Ramsey headed assist.

Portadown forged ahead 10 minutes after the re-start courtesy of Braniff’s right boot. It was set up by a combination of fine play by Morrison and Keith O’Hara, who cut it across the box and Braniff swivelled to ram it home, low and hard, from 15 yards.

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David Ogilby came to Institute’s rescue soon afterwards, hacking a Morrison cross off the line.

Institute played the neater football in the closing stages, but didn’t really get a noteworthy shot in until the 86th minute when a 30-yarder from Kevin Divin tested David Miskelly.

And Braniff sealed it by starting and ending a last-minute move. He sent Johnny Topley away on the left before deftly heading home the pin-point cross.

portadown: Miskelly, O’Hara, Redman, Clarke, Kelly, Braniff, McCutcheon, Baker, Hunter, Morrison, Topley. Subs: Armstrong, McCluskey, Lecky, Haire, Mackle.

INSTITUTE: Cullen, Crown, Seydak, McLaughlin, McClean, Ogilby, Divin, Shields, Ramsey, McCready, Holmes. Subs: Friars, McClements, McFadden, Ryan, Blackburn.

Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon).

l Donegal Celtic made it through to the final of the WKD Intermediate Cup last night with a 2-1 victory over Dergview at Lakeview Park.

Liam Watson and Paul McVeigh put the Hoops 2-0 up before Ryan Campbell pulled one back for Dergview in the second period.

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