Portadown 2-1 Carrick Rangers
Portadown scored twice in two minutes late on to pick up a win against a lacklustre Carrick Rangers side in this season’s final meeting between the teams.

The Mid-Ulster outfit registered the first notable chance in the opening exchanges as Matthew Hazley’s powerful shot had to be tipped over the bar by ‘Gers shot-stopper Brian Neeson.


Minutes later heroic defending from Paddy McNally saw him make a last-gasp tackle to deny Marcio Soares from scoring before he blocked Stephen Hughes’ follow-up effort.


At the other end, Chris Morrow picked out TJ Murray who availed of the time and space to shoot from distance but his effort cannoned off the crossbar and out of play.


Having picked up an injury in a tackle, Paddy McNally was unable to continue and so on the 31st minute he was replaced by debutant Daniel Larmour.


The home side had a few chances at the end of the half and came closest to scoring when Sean Mackle regained possession and trying his luck from distance however Neeson was equal to it, ensuring it was goalless at the break.


Tommy Elder replaced Chris Morrow at the break as Aaron Callaghan reshuffled his team ahead of the second half.


Niall Currie’s men continued with their attacking emphasis in the second half as Hughes closed-in on goal but he was bravely denied by a sliding block from ‘Gers right-back Aaron Smyth.


Rangers made their final substitution on the 50th minute as Sean Noble replaced Mark Surgenor.


Five minutes later, the East Antrim side took the lead. Substitute Elder broke into the box and was brought down by Larkin, giving referee Neil Robinson no choice but to point to the spot. Martin Murray stepped up and confidently sent Chris McGaughey the wrong way to give Rangers the lead.


Elder looked to double his side’s lead soon after as he capitalised on confusion in the Portadown defence however his attempted lob was easily collected by McGaughey.


The tempo of the game dropped dramatically until the 81st minute when the hosts were awarded a penalty. Callum Ferris was adjudged to have been fouled by Carrick’s Larmour and although referee Neil Robinson originally awarded a free-kick, a quick consultation with his assistant saw him award a penalty instead. Niall Henderson dispatched the spot-kick coolly to bring Portadown level.


Only minutes later and the home side’s winner arrived. Hughes played a one-two with Ferris before sliding the ball across the face of goal for Luke Wilson to tap-in his first goal on his debut for the Ports.


Rangers had one final chance at the death as Henderson’s wayward header saw Declan O’Brien go through one-on-one but the former Glenavon frontman could only smash his shot off the post, seeing Portadown pick up a 2-1 win to frustration of Carrick who had been in control for large parts of the second half.


Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Smyth, McNally (Larmour, 31), McVey, McCullough, TJ Murray, Morrow (Elder, 45), Surgenor (Noble, 50), Kelly, M Murray, O’Brien.


Unused substitutes: Chapman, Rice.

updated: 14 April 2017

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 Linfield 38 20 7 11 72 4667
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