SKY BLUES GET FIRST LEAGUE WIN ON THE ROAD
Ballymena United squeezed past nine-man Portadown at Shamrock Park to record a first away win of the campaign.
A cagey start to the game produced few efforts in front of goal during the opening exchanges although Ballymena did have a Jonte Smith header saved by Jethren Barr while Ports striker Lee Bonis had a low free-kick stopped by Jordan Williamson.
The visitors did look the more likely to find a way through as the first half progressed with Andy McGrory and Dan Bramall both having efforts dealt with by Barr.
The Ports were suffered their first dismissal of the afternoon just after the half-hour mark when Oisin Conaty was shown a straight red card by referee Evan Boyce following an off the ball incident with Caolan Loughran.
And Ballymena almost made their extra man count just before the break when Conor Keeley severely tested Barr with a hard hit long range drive which the Ports keeper did well to turn around an upright.
United had another opening early in the second half when Bramall cut inside and offered up a 25-yard drive only for the ball to go over.
Ports defender Paul Finnegan glanced a header from Stephen Teggart's corner just wide not long after the hour while, at the other end, Paul McElroy was denied by another good stop from Barr.
But the turning point in the game came with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining. Portadown went down to nine men when Nathan Kerr was issued with a second yellow for impeding Ryan Waide and, just a minute or so after that, McGrory bundled home what proved to be the winner with an instinctive finish inside a packed area
Portadown: Barr, Hall, Ruddy, McCallum, Finnegan, McKeown, Lavery, Bonis, Conaty, Kerr, S. Teggart subs Doherty (not used), Tipton (not used), Anderson (not used), McLeod (replaced McKeown 74), Warde (replaced Lavery 78), Glenfield (not used), Rutkowski (not used)
Ballymena United: Williamson, Redman, McKeown, Winchester, Henderson, McGrory, Bramall, Loughran, Keeley, Millar, Smith subs Johnston (not used), Chapman (not used), Wilson (replaced Henderson 46), McElroy (replaced McKeown 46), Waide (replaced Bramall 60), Barr (not used), Beattie (not used)