Ports serve up cup shock with tight win over Crumlin
They may be labouring at the foot of the NIBA Division One table, but Portadown pulled off one of the shocks of the day in the IBA Senior Cup by sending Crumlin crashing through the first round exit door on Saturday.
Having picked up only one-and-a-half points from a possible 14 in their three opening league outings, morale low was ahead of the cup shootout against their Bowling League of Ireland visitors.
But against all the odds, the Ports delivered when it mattered.
They edged home by just four shots to earn a second round meeting with the NIBA rivals and cup holders Bangor on June 2.
"It was a heck of a game," said Portadown's Mark Sproule.
"We dominated early on, but they came back at us.
"That's the way it was right until the last end.
"For the first time this season, we showed a good battling spirit and we'll need more of that to get us away from the bottom of the table.
"But we've now been handed the most difficult of draws in the next round against Bangor.
"They are notoriously difficult to beat on their own green, but we'll be giving it a good go."
It was Dayne Jordan's impressive 30-19 win over Ian Darcy that had a significant impact on the final outcome.
Sproule picked up a three and a two on the last two ends to defeat John Byrne 20-15, while Davy Peden scored a 21-14 win against former Ireland international Stephen Millane.
Noel Maher ensured the game would go right to the wire by racking up a 33-14 victory against Robert Hobson.
In the day's top clash, cup specialists Belmont held their nerve to defeat Ballymoney on their home green, running out six shots winners. Simon Cavan's impressive 26-13 win against Alistair Steele tilted the tie in favour of the visitors.
Simon Martin also played a crucial role by beating Gary Kelly 19-12.
Brian McAlary and Willie McCaw ensured the Provincial side were in it right to the end by racking up wins against Roy Battersby (left) (27-17) and Stuart Bennett (17-13).
But perhaps the performance of the day was at Jordanstown where Ulster Transport sent BLI kings, St James's Gate, crashing to a two shots defeat.
Results: Irish Bowling Association Senior Cup, first round: Ballymoney 69 Belmont 75, Willowfield 76 CYM 85, Donaghadee 69 Ballymena 80, Portadown 85 Crumlin 81, Letterkenny 74 Larne 76, Limavady 128 Albert Foundry 48, Ulster Transport 80 St James's Gate 78.
Irish Bowling Association Intermediate Cup, first round: Ballywalter 105 Bray 68, Londonderry Park 77 Dromore 66, CI-Knock 90 Magherafelt 55, Hilden 110 Skerries 42, Ormeau 69 Finaghy 77, Sydenham 103 Musgrave 48, Cavehill 82 Curran 75, Dungiven 80 Gilnahirk 67, Dungannon 115 BETS 42, Warrenpoint 65 Mossley 66, Cookstown 89 Ards B 65, Forth River 87 Saintfield 53, North Belfast 73 Castlerock 93, Shorts 63 North Down 81, Newcastle 75 Rathfriland 80.
Irish Bowling Association Junior Cup first round: Banbridge B 84 Ballycastle B 66, Londonderry Park B 88 Ballymena C 44.
NIBA DIVISION ONE: Balmoral 71 (2) Dundonald 72 (5), Bangor 100 (7) Divis 49 (0).
NIPGL DIVISION ONE: Pickie 90 (7) Falls 66 (0).