SKY BLUES FIGHT BACK
Ballymena United came from behind to defeat Portadown at The Showgrounds and collect an important three points in the battle for a potential European play-off spot.
David Jeffrey's side are now just a point adrift of fellow challengers Glenavon following their loss away to Dungannon Swifts going into the final three games of the campaign.
The Sky Blues enjoyed the best of the early opportunities with both Ryan Waide and Brendan Barr being denied by Ports keeper Jethren Barr.
At the other end Adam Salley had a go from distance before, with eight minutes of the first half remaining, the Ports edged in front through Billy Stedman who managed to meet a corner and nod the ball home from close range.
And the visitors almost bagged a second in stoppage time through George Tipton but his curling effort was well kept out by Jordan Williamson.
It took United just three minutes of the second half to get back on level terms, however, after Paul McElroy converted from the spot, awarded after Barr had been the victim of an infringement by Howard Beverland on the edge of the area.
Ballymena might have taken the lead just after the hour mark when Barr pounced on a poor Michael Ruddy header but he was thwarted by his namesake in the visiting goal.
But what proved to be the winner came with nine minutes remaining after Steven McCullough offered up a sweetly executed left-foot free-kick into the top left corner from around 25 yards.
There was almost a third on 83 minutes but Mikey Place's low effort from outside the box was spilled by the keeper only to rebound off an upright and back into Barr's grateful arms.
Ballymena United: Williamson, Redman, Kelly, McElroy, Waide, McCullough, Henderson, Barr, McGrory, Keeley, Nelson subs Johnston (not used), Kane (replaced McElroy 84), Loughran (replaced Keeley 84), Graham (not used), Smith (not used), Place (replaced Henderson 68), McMullan (not used)
Portadown: Barr, Hall, Ruddy, Tipton, Salley, Conaty, McNally, Teggart, Beverland, J. Doherty, Stedman subs H. Doherty (not used), McCallum (replaced McNally 26), Anderson (not used), Dupree (replaced Beverland 84), Smith (replaced Conaty 68), Dugan (not used), Mashigo (replaced Tipton 68)