McELROY HAT-TRICK GUIDES PORTS TO CRUCIAL VICTORY
Paul McElroy was the hat-trick hero for Portadown as they swept to a hugely significant victory over Dungannon Swifts at Shamrock Park.
The Ports got off to a dream start when, after just five minutes, McElroy opened the scoring after turning to fire low past keeper Declan Dunne.
McElroy might have doubled Portadown's lead moments later only to strike an upright after receiving the ball from Eoghan McCawl.
Portadown continued to dominate, and came close again when Stephen Teggart was denied only by a Cahal McGinty block while McElroy had another effort a few minutes after that kept out by Dunne.
Niall Currie's side hit the woodwork for a second time after Teggart fired against the far post from the left side of the area.
The Swifts might have levelled midway through the first half, however, when Michael O'Connor had a go from 40 yards only to see his chipped effort fall just wide.
But the Ports came close to adding a second just before the break only for Dunne to produce a great low save to thwart Teggart after he had been teed up by Alberto Balde.
Dungannon came out after the break determined to bag the equaliser, and almost managed it when O'Connor tested Mastny from distance followed by a Rhyss Campbell effort from inside the box that went narrowly wide.
The visitors did get their leveller on 57 minutes. Campbell did well to get past Christopher Rodgers in the box before delivering a low cross for McGee to knock home.
However Portadown hit back just five minutes after that to regain the lead with McElroy's second of the night, a finish past Dunne from an acute angle.
McElroy then made sure of the points with his third of the evening on 89 minutes, converting from the spot after he had been upended by Caolin Coyle.
Portadown: Mastny, Upton, Wilson, Russell, McKeown, Chapman, Teggart, Rodgers, McCawl, Friel, McElroy subs Barr, Balde, Stedman, Jordan, Igiehon, Walker, O'Sullivan
Dungannon Swifts: Dunne, Knowles, O'Connor, Campbell, McGinty, Walsh, Ruddy, McGee, Jenkins, Animasahun, Bruna subs Nelson, Coyle, Mayse, McCready, Curry, Smith, Moore