Portadown produced a spirited performance under the Shamrock Park floodlights to pick up a battling 1-1 draw against champions Crusaders that may not change the club’s position at the foot of the Danske Bank Premiership standings but offered encouragement for the future.
Crusaders arrived at Shamrock Park having picked up maximum points from the 2017 league programme and the defending champions broke the deadlock on 10 minutes when Jordan Owens controlled and converted from distance.
Gavin Whyte and Declan Caddell also had sights of goal before the break but Crusaders’ bright start gave way in the face of a Portadown side rejuvenated by the previous week’s 1-1 draw away to Linfield.
Adam Foley had one run on goal stopped by a Sean O’Neill save as Portadown pushed hard and posed a threat on the break.
Jack Duffin’s save off Whyte then led to an equaliser as his upfield punt created problems for Billy Joe Burns and Marcio Soares’ pressure paid off with a ball dropping into the box and the striker finding the net.
The second half featured a string of promising breaks by the Ports as Crusaders failed to regain control.
Two sights of goal arrived in quick succession for Portadown.
Robert Garrett’s pass was crossed in by Sean Mackle but Andrew Mitchell managed to block at the back post.
Shea McGerrigan then delivered a teasing cross but Soares’ glancing header drifted just over the crossbar.
A last-gasp break by substitute Jaime Gardiner ended with Garrett in space in the box but O’Neill produced a superb save.
PORTADOWN: Jack Duffin, Mark Carson, Ross Larkin, Brendan Shannon, Matthew Hazley, Niall Henderson, Robert Garrett, Sean Mackle, Shea McGerrigan, Marcio Soares, Adam Foley. Subs: Conor Larkin, Jordan Lyttle, Jaime Gardiner (Foley, 87), Callum Ferris (Soares, 87), Tiarnan Mulvenna.
CRUSADERS: Sean O’Neill, Billy Joe Burns, Colin Coates, Philip Lowry, Michael Carvill, Declan Caddell, Jordan Forsythe, Craig McLean, Jordan Owens, Alan Keane, Gavin Whyte. Subs: Andrew Mitchell (Coates, 46), David Cushley (Lowry, 65), Michael Dougherty, Richard Clarke, Mikel Suarez (Carvill, 78).