Richard Clarke (35p)

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Richard Clarke knocked home Ballinamallard's winner from the spot (©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton)

PORTS LOSE GROUND IN BATTLE FOR SECOND SPOT

Portadown lost ground in the battle for second spot in the Bluefin Sport Championship with defeat to Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park.

Matthew Tipton's side almost got off to the perfect start when, during the opening exchanges, Chris Lavery saw an effort saved by the legs of John Connolly while the rebound was fired across the face of goal.

Lavery was denied again not long after that while, for the Mallards, Sean McEvoy and Richard Clarke tested Ports keeper Declan Dunne.

The sides continued to trade chances. Ryan Campbell fired too high when the ball fell for him inside the box before Kevin Braniff headed a Lavery cross just over at the other end.

However, Ballinamallard did find a way through on 35 minutes with what proved to be the only goal of the game when Clarke converted from the spot following a challenge on McEvoy.

Aaron Duke was presented with a great chance to level just before the hour but his close range header after meeting a cross from the left was just inches over.

Martin Bradley then saw an effort drift wide before Duke did have the ball in the net but this was ruled out following an infringement on Connolly.

Portadown continued to press and squandered another opening soon after when Braniff fired over with the goal at his mercy followed by a Ryan Carmichael chance meeting a similar fate.

Despite the pressure Ballinamallard could have extended their lead through both McEvoy and Josh McIlwaine as the game drifted into the closing stages but Harry McConkey's men held on to secure the points.

Ballinamallard United: Connolly, Taheny, Smyth, Clarke, Arkinson, Campbell, McCartney, Kelly, McIlwaine, O'Reilly, McEvoy subs McManus (not used), Edgar (replaced McIlwaine 89), Henderson (replaced McEvoy 73), Robb (not used), Warrington (replaced Campbell 81)

Portadown: Dunne, McCallum, Finnegan, Lavery, Salley, Braniff, Hall, Thompson, Wilson, Mackle, McKenna subs Murphy (not used), Larkin (not used), Duke (replaced Mackle 55), Bradley (replaced McKenna 55), Carmichael (replaced Salley 77)

Referee: Barry Monaghan