PORTADOWN 1 BALLYMENA UNITED 0
A thundering shot from just inside the box on 75 minutes by Portadown’s Sean Mackle won this melee in the mud.
And it was obvious from the start that a single goal would decide the game at Shamrock Park – where the fact that the game went ahead at all was testament to the hard work of Walter McElroy who celebrated his 79th birthday.
It was a dour struggle from start to finish with both teams giving it their all, but the mud was the most telling point.
It livened up after the break with Portadown’s Gary Twigg presented with the best chance but keeper Aaron Shanahan just about got a hand to it.
It was touch and go until that late score from Mackle – playing great stuff since his comeback from injury – settled it.
Ballymena forced the ball into the Ports’ net on 85 minutes, but Darren Boyce’s effort was ruled off-side by referee Ross Dunlop.
PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Casement, O’Hara, Ramsey, Breen, McMahon, Mackle, Murray, Twigg, McCafferty, Friars. Subs- Brennan, Judge, McConnell, Barton, McStay.
BALLYMENA UTD: Shanahan, Ervin, McCullagh, Munster, Stewart, Thompson, Surgeoner, Jenkins, Cushley, Boyce, Teggart. Subs- Kane, Davidson, Ruddy, Lowry, McLellan (for Teggart 81 mins).
Referee- Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus)