CHAMPIONSHIP: Portadown strong in second half to bounce back from early Limavady blow

Portadown manager Niall Currie.
Portadown manager Niall Currie.

Two goals in four second-half minutes helped Portadown turn the tables on Limavady United’s 1-0 lead to maintain a maximum start with a 2-1 success at Shamrock Park.

Paul Owens’ 100th game in charge of United featured the perfect prize on 14 minutes when the player/manager slipped a free-kick in behind the static home defence for Gerard Gillen to lift over the advancing John Connolly.

The Ports’ response included a cross by Kevin Amuneke which proved just too strong for Peter Duffin and Niall Henderson’s free-kick attempt blocked by the wall.

A well-worked started by Kyle Neill led to Matt Hazley then picking out Duffin inside the area with a curling pass but the winger could only clear the crossbar.

United entered half-time clear by a single goal but frustrated at failure to double the lead when Owens’ corner-kick was steered back into the danger zone by a Graham Crown back-post header but Connolly eventually managed to claim inside the packed penalty area.

Portadown regrouped during the half-time interval to gain control across the early stages of the second half.

The equaliser arrived on 50 minutes when Chris Lavery slipped a pass to Hazley on the left-hand side of the area and he produced a composed finish under pressure.

The Ports’ postion improved soon after thanks to a low drive from outside the area by Kevin Amuneke which squeezed inside Paul Wells’ near post.

Additional chances to extend the lead arrived for Niall Currie’s promotion favourites.

Wells then pulled off a superb acrobatic save to deny Hazley a second of the afternoon after good work by Chris Lavery to pick out the Ports’ first scorer at the back post.

Neill’s corner-kick was met on the run by Kyle McVey but the centre-back’s powerful header proved too high.

PORTADOWN: John Connolly, David McCullough, Kyle McVey, Adam McCallum, Kyle Neill, Niall Henderson, Andy Kilmartin (Luke Wilson, 58), Matt Hazley, Chris Lavery, Peter Duffin (Mark Carson, 81), Kevin Amuneke (Adam Salley, 61). Subs (not used): Ross Larkin, Jude Ballard.

LIMAVADY UNITED: Paul Wells, Andrew Devlin, Declan McKeever, Graham Crown, John Watt, Glenn Law (Marcus O’Kane, 81), Gary McFadden, Lee Harkin, Gerard Gillen, Paul Owens (Ryan Logue, 56), Shane Jennings (Jordan Thompson, 60). Subs (not used): Aaron Mullan, Ray Kelly.