CHAMPIONSHIP: Teenager Balde grabs first senior goal as Portadown see off Knockbreda
Fifteen-year-old Alberto Balde found the net for the first time in senior football to set Portadown on the path to three points over Knockbreda.
Balde’s second-half header handed the Ports control and sparked a flurry of activity across five mad minutes which produced three goals, a penalty and red card.
Portadown finished with a hard-earned success by 2-1 at the close of play in the Bluefin Sport Championship clash.
Balde guided home Niall Henderson’s right-wing cross with a glancing header on the hour mark to celebrate his second start for the senior side with a first goal.
It was a major moment for the Middlesbrough-bound Northern Ireland youth international but within seconds of the celebrations Knockbreda left it level.
Lewis Irwin displayed a slick touch to control the ball then a superb finish as his long-range looping shot nestled in the top corner of the net.
The drama continued with the third goal inside as many minutes to restore the Portadown’s advantage.
The match officials felt a scramble inside the area ended with a foul on Adam Salley and Ports captain Henderson stepped up to slot home the penalty kick.
Knockbreda’s problems increased on 65 minutes with a straight red card for Nathan McVeigh following his challenge on Luke Wilson.
Portadown carved out scoring opportunities thanks to the extra man but goalkeeper David Ferguson produced stops to frustrate the impressive Chris Lavery and teenager Balde.
Knockbreda almost grabbed an injury-time equaliser but Richard Rutherford’s snapshot inside the packed penalty area drifted wide of the far post.
KNOCKBREDA: Ferguson, Hamill, Pike (Cockcroft, 70), Doran, Arthur, McVeigh, Irwin (Young, 79), Newberry, Rutherford, Cafolla (Halliday, 83), McBurney.
Subs (not used): Walls, Sargeant.
PORTADOWN: McGaughey, McCullough (Carson, 45), Brennan, McVey, Larkin, N.Henderson, Wilson, Balde, Lavery (D.Henderson, 81), Warwick (Duffin, 45), Salley.
Subs (not used): McCallum, Kilmartin.