IRISH LEAGUE: Wilson makes it a dream debut for Portadown in dramatic defeat of Carrick

Carrick Rangers' Chris Morrow closed down by 16-year-old Luke Wilson on his senior league debut for Portadown. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Carrick Rangers' Chris Morrow closed down by 16-year-old Luke Wilson on his senior league debut for Portadown. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Portadown produced a gripping finale to protect a Premiership position for another week by beating Carrick Rangers.

Sixteen-year-old Luke Wilson was the hometown hero in the 2-1 success with an assured finish inside the penalty area to complete a thrilling fightback by Niall Currie’s men.

With any result other than home success cementing Portadown’s relegation, Carrick broke the deadlock and appeared on course to consign the hosts to the drop before two goals in as many late minutes.

Niall Henderson sparked the comeback by slotting home a penalty kick on 81 minutes.

The momentum continued in the favour of the hosts with Wilson’s moment to savour arriving by converting a Stephen Hughes pass.

Portadown dominated the first-half chances, with the sole Carrick effort of note a long-range drive by TJ Murray that clipped the crossbar.

The home side enjoyed the majority of the ball and carved out a series of openings along the left wing thanks to the industrious Brendan Shannon and Matthew Hazley.

Hazley had one attempt tipped over by Brian Neeson before Paddy McNally slid in to block Marcio Soares’ progress on the edge of the box.

Niall Henderson cleared the target with a drive on the run and Neeson had to be acrobatic to stop then gather Sean Mackle’s shot.

Portadown started the second half by continuing to create and Soares won back the ball inside the penalty area then stabbed the ball towards the unmarked Hughes. However, Aaron Smyth raced in to block Hughes’ close-range shot.

The balance of the match shifted, however, in the favour of Carrick on 55 minutes when substitute Tommy Elder was fouled by Ross Larkin in the box. Martin Murray stepped up to slot home the penalty kick.

Carrick enjoyed a period on top as Portadown struggled to adjust, with defensive confusion presenting Elder with a slender chance but Chris McGaughey raced back to collect his attempted lob.

Declan O’Brien’s last-gasp shot bounced off the post to keep Portadown in front at the final whistle.

PORTADOWN: Chris McGaughey, Brendan Shannon, Garry Breen, Ross Larkin, Matthew Hazley, Niall Henderson, Luke Wilson, Robert Garrett, Sean Mackle, Marcio Soares, Stephen Hughes. Subs: Liam Hughes, Callum Ferris (Soares, 68), Jordan Lyttle, Nedas Maciulaitis (Hazley, 75), Jake Richardson (Mackle, 80).

CARRICK RANGERS; Brian Neeson, Aaron Smyth, Steven McCullough, Paddy McNally, Mark Surgenor, Kyle McVey, TJ Murray, Daniel Kelly, Chris Morrow, Martin Murray, Declan O’Brien. Subs: Lee Chapman, Tommy Elder (Morrow, 46), Sean Noble (Surgenor, 50) Daniel Larmour (McNally, 31), Fra Rice.

Referee: Neil Robinson.