Irish Premiership: Ballymena United 3-2 Portadown

Ballymena stay top of the Irish Premiership with victory over Portadown

Ballymena United remain the early-season pacesetters in the Irish Premiership after beating Portadown.

Defender Kyle McVey headed his first goal for Ballymena on the half hour to give the Sky Blues an interval lead.

Robert Garrett drilled in a low shot for Portadown's equaliser but skipper Allan Jenkins restored United's lead.

Darren Boyce pounced on a loose pass from Sean Mackle and ran through to make it 3-1 while Darren Murray netted a late penalty for the Ports.

It leaves Ballymena level on seven points with champions Cliftonville and Showgrounds men have a slightly better goal difference.

"It is very early but we have come through a tough start to the season," said Ballymena manager Glenn Ferguson.

"Portadown have invested heavily and they had their big guns back today.

"But we deserved it, and if we had not won it would have been an injustice."

After Portadown's Mark McAllister saw a shot hit the bar, former Coleraine and Linfield defender McVey got the opener on 30 minutes, heading in when the Ports defence failed to pick him up at a corner.

Another former Linfield man, Garrett, struck a low shot to level in the 66th minute.

However, Ballymena edged in front for a second time when Jenkins exchanged passes with Neal Gawley and slid a low shot past keeper David Miskelly.

Boyce looked to have made it safe by racing clear to net United's third, but Murray stoppage-time penalty, awarded for hand-ball, ensured a nervy last couple of minutes.

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