CLIFTONVILLE 1 PORTADOWN 0
Niall Currie’s era as Portadown manager kicked off with a single-goal defeat to 10-man Cliftonville.
Pre-match statistics proved against the Ports as Cliftonville played host aiming to extend both a lengthy run of wins over the opposition and current formbook.
Currie made his mark on selection with a recall for Mark McAllister, with the striker having been axed from the first-team squad under Pat McGibbon and Vinny Arkins.
Garry Breen’s snapshot for the Ports was followed up by Stephen Garrett looking sharp but the latter left frustrated by goalkeeper Chris McGaughey.
Cliftonville broke the deadlock on 17 minutes with a deflection via Breen as Levi Ives’ long-range strike diverted off the centre-back.
Breen was at the centre of the talking points again moments later as Jason McGuinness was sent off following an incident with the Portadown centre-back.
A challenge by McAllister on Cliftonville goalkeeper Peter Burke left the shot-stopper in need of treatment.
The match officials then discussed an exchange between McGuinness and Breen that left the former with red and the latter issued yellow.
On the day that long-serving Portadown goalkeeper David Miskelly confirmed his retirement as a player, current number one McCaughey enhanced his reputation with a string of saves.
Jude Winchester and Ives linked up along the left but McCaughey’s out-stretched leg blocked the close-range shot.
McAllister fired wide late in the half after good work between Robert Garrett and Niall Henderson.
Play proved tight after the interval before two smart stops by McCaughey in quick succession - the first to tip over James Knowles’ free-kick, the second off a Winchester long-range drive.
Stephen Hughes’ clever footwork helped to create space around the box but his shot was deflected over the bar.
Portadown’s pressure against the 10-man hosts continued to build as Chris Curran cleared a low Henderson cross. Keith O’Hara then whipped over a cross from the left which Aaron Haire headed wide.
However, Cliftonville posed a threat on the break and McCaughey stopped David McDaid’s shot.
The final whistle confirmed another win for in-form Cliftonville - with Currie left to reflect on improved energy levels.
CLIFTONVILLE: Peter Burke, Jaimie McGivern, Levi Ives, Jason McGuinness, Chris Curran, James Knowles, David McDaid, Stephen Garrett, Jude Winchester, Ross Lavery, Tomas Cosgrove. Subs: Jason Mooney, Caoimhin Bonner (Lavery, 26), Martin Donnelly (Ives, 69), Ryan Catney, Daniel Reynolds (McDaid, 93).
PORTADOWN: Chris McCaughey, Brendan Shannon, Garry Breen, Ken Oman, Mark Carson, Keith O’Hara, Niall Henderson, Sean Mackle, Mark McAllister, Robert Garrett, Stephen Hughes. Subs: Conor Larkin, Matthew Parker, Alan Byrne (Henderson, 74), Aaron Haire (Carson, 46), Sam Simpson (Simpson, 63).
Referee: Evan Boyce.