PORTADOWN 5 BALLYMENA UNITED 5
Any football manager whose team cracks home five goals could reasonably expect all three points – but Portadown’s Ronnie McFall and Ballymena’s Glenn Ferguson had to be content with one apiece.
Nobody felt worse than Portadown’s ace striker Gary Twigg who notched a superb hat-trick after weeks of fighting a niggling injury.
“True, it’s great to net three goals,” he said. “But three points are the name of the game and we let it slip away.”
The Scot was on target after just three minutes when he rounded off a dream move. But two minutes later United were level through Matthew Tipton when he took advantage of a poor clearance - and on 12 minutes Peter McMahon put the Ports ahead again.
It was 3-2 for the home side at the break with Twigg adding his second on 28 minutes and Darren Boyce reducing the lead just before the break – after which Portadown lost influential defender Chris Casement after a heavy foul by Gary Thompson.
The Ports were 4-2 ahead on 68 minutes when Twigg completed his hat-trick, but tenacious Ballymena fought back through a Johnny Taylor header. But the Ports should have had it sealed on 81 minutes when Darren Murray cracked home the fifth.
However, that awful Ports defending let in Tipton for his second and United fourth – a great looped header – and Allan Jenkins nipped in at the far post for the final equaliser.
PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Casement (Lyttle 46m), Redman, Ramsey, Breen, P. McMahon, Mackle, Murray, Gault, Twigg, Garrett. Subs not used – Brennan, McElroy, M. McMahon, Conaty.
BALLYMENA: Addis, Kane, Munster, Taylor, McBride, McCaul (Irvin 69m)l, Jenkins, Thompson, McCutcheon (Cushley 82m), Boyce, Tipton. Subs not used – McAllister, Gawley, Teggart.
Referee: Ian McNabb.