Belfast Telegraph

Brave Carrick snatch draw as Portadown blow it

By Keith Bailie

Carrick Rangers 2 Portadown 2: Portadown missed a golden opportunity to close the gap at the top of the Carling Premiership, when they gifted Carrick Rangers an injury time equaliser at Seaview last night.

Defender Brian Gartland failed to clear a Paul Heatley cross, allowing substitute Anto Lagan to score in dramatic circumstances.

The goal gave new boss Michael Hughes and his side a much needed boost and a crucial point.

Portadown looked on course for an easy victory when Kevin Braniff scored in the eighth minute, heading home an excellent cross from right-back Chris Ramsey.

For the first half an hour Portadown looked lively, with Braniff causing problems by dropping deep.

Midfielder Jamie Tomelty almost increased the lead on two separate occasions.

In the 17th minute the former Linfield man found space on the edge of the box before firing just over the bar.

Nine minutes later Tomelty came even closer, Declan Brown forced to parry his curling shot away from goal.

As the half progressed the balance of play began to shift, with Carrick growing in confidence.

The dangerous Paul Owens levelled in the 36th minute when he controlled the ball 25 yards from goal on the right hand side before stepping forward and curling it with his left foot beyond the reach of David Miskelly.

Portadown almost took the lead again just one minute after the break when Matt Tipton combined with Braniff who was only able to hit the side netting from the angle of the six yard box.

Owens then worked Miskelly with a 25 yard free-kick in the 50th minute.

Miskelly was called into action again four minutes later when he collected a low drive from Heatley.

Portadown scored what appeared to be a 75th minute winner in fortuitous circumstances.

Garry Breen’s long throw was knocked on by Ramsey, Carrick keeper Brown looked to have caught the ball but it slipped from his grasp and landed right at the feet of Tipton who accepted the gift, slamming home from eight yards.

Carrick, though, refused to give up and got their just reward in the 91st minute when sub Lagan scored that late, late equaliser.

Heatley’s low cross should have been cut out by Gartland but he allowed the ball to slip under his foot which set Lagan in on goal.

The big man charged through and fired the ball past Ports keeper Miskelly to give Carrick a vital point in their battle against relegation.

CARRICK RANGERS: Brown, Murray, Bell, McAlinden, Taggart, Smith (McClean 82), Addis (Lagan 69), Hutchinson, Owens, Heatley, McDowell. Subs Not Used: Valko, Hogan, Lynch.

PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Ramsey, Redman, Breen, Gartland, Tomelty, McCabe, McCafferty, McCloskey (Boyle 52), Braniff, Tipton. Subs Not Used: Murphy, Clarke, Burns, Paget.

Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus).

Belfast Telegraph

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