Irish Premiership: Portadown 1-0 Ballinamallard Utd

Portadown delay probable relegation with Ballinamallard win

Ross Larkin scored a second-half winner as Portadown beat Ballinamallard United 1-0 at Shamrock Park on Friday to further delay their likely relegation.

Larkin touched the ball home at the near post in the 57th minute after Matt Hazley provided the right-wing cross.

The win leaves the Ports eight points adrift of Carrick Rangers at the foot of the table with three games to play.

Portadown will be relegated if Carrick Rangers, whom they beat 2-1 last week, defeat Ards on Saturday.

Ballinamallard almost got off to the perfect start when Stuart Hutchinson hit the crossbar in the first minute.

The home side went on to create the better of the chances but Hazley rushed his shot from outside the box when he was sent through on goal, allowing Richard Brush to save easily.

Robert Garrett saw his long-range effort go over the bar as the hosts set to secure their third top-flight win over their Fermanagh opponents this season.

At the other end, Ryan Mayse shot inches wide and Ryan Curran fashioned a scoring opportunity for the visitors but his fierce drive from outside the box was pushed over by the fingertips of Chris McGaughey.

Marcio Soares and Colm McLaughlin contend for the ball at Shamrock Park
Marcio Soares and Colm McLaughlin contend for the ball at Shamrock Park

Cliftonville-bound defender Garry Breen blasted well over from inside the box and Sean Mackle had a shot blocked as the sides went in level at the interval.

Niall Currie's side almost found themselves behind early in the second half but Larkin did well to clear Curran's effort off the line.

The winning goal arrived 12 minutes after the break when Niall Henderson took a quick free-kick, which sent Hazley away down the right side and Larkin applied the finish to his delivery for his first senior goal for the club.

Brush denied Mackle a second but the Ports were able to celebrate a second successive Premiership victory.

The Mallards remain 10th in the table but are not yet certain of avoiding being involved in the end-of-season promotion-relegation play-off.