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Equal Ports

Portadown 1-1 Cliftonville

Cliftonville were forced to settle for a draw despite a second-half bombardment of the Portadown goal in this afternoon’s Danske Bank Premiership meeting at Shamrock Park.

Paul O’Neill’s well-executed header cancellled out Stephen Teggart’s opener but, try as they might, the visitors simply couldn’t conjure up the second goal their dominance merited ahead of O’Neill seeing an injury-time finish ruled out for offside.

After creating a host of early opportunities, the Reds’ early grip on proceedings gradually made way for more balanced play as the opening period wore on and the hosts took full advantage of a brief defensive lapse to open the scoring through Teggart on 52 minutes.

From that point on, it was one-way traffic with Joe Gormley twice denied by goalkeeper Jethren Barr, while Jonny Addis and O’Neill saw efforts hacked off the line before the latter eventually drew Cliftonville level with a header from Jamie McDonagh’s cross.

The Reds’ performance had promised goals and the only thing more surprising than them only getting one was how long it took to arrive.

The first chance of the game saw Chris Curran draw a save from Barr ahead of O’Neill lashing a strike wide, with Levi Ives going close with a free-kick before Daniel Kearns fizzed a blast just past the post and Addis was off target with an overhead kick.

With the first period largely one-way traffic, it was something of a shock to the system when the Ports capitalised on a momentary lapse to break the deadlock shortly after the turnaround; Teggart racing forward before producing a precise finish into the bottom corner.

Cliftonville immediately set about reasserting their dominance on proceedings and saw a multitude of chances come and go during an entertaining – albeit highly frustrating – spell that started with Gormley and Ryan Curran going close.

McDonagh’s free-kick delivery was then met by Gormley and, when his header was kept out by Barr, Addis looked set to produce a simple finish from close range only for Paul Finnegan to produce an exquisite block that sent the ball over the top.

Ryan Curran nodded wide either side of Addis doing likewise, with O’Neill having a shot poked off the line by Greg Hall in advance of the inevitable equaliser arriving when he flicked a McDonagh cross beyond Barr.

There were still 11 minutes left on the clock and the Reds used the remaining time to continue laying siege to the hosts’ goal.

O’Neill saw a free-kick deflected just over, Gormley’s snapshot was kept out by an excellent save from Barr, who also got down to gather an O’Neill attempt before an Ives drive was charged down by Hall.

Cliftonville thought they’d won it in injury-time when O’Neill lifted Ives’ delivery over Barr and into the net only for an offside flag to cut celebrations short, while a superb intervention from Finnegan stopped any one of three visiting players getting on the end of McDonagh’s inviting cross.

Cliftonville: McNicholas, McDermott, Ives, C Curran, R Curran, O’Neill, Lowe, Addis, Turner, Gallagher (McDonagh, 50 mins), Kearns (Gormley, 52 mins). Unused subs: Dunne, Harney, Donnelly, Doherty, Coates.