Tiernan McNicholl scored twice as Carrick Rangers earned only their second win of the league season last night.
Aaron Callaghan’s side had fallen behind to Ryan Mayse’s opener at Ferney Park but McNicholl’s double and a Martin Murray penalty helped Rangers climb to within three points of opponents Ballinamallard with a 3-1 victory.
It was boss Callaghan’s first victory since taking over at the helm of the struggling East Antrim club.
Hosts Ballinamallard started the stronger of the two teams with Shane McGinty and Johnny Lafferty both spurning opportunities to put their side ahead.
However, the lively Ryan Mayse soon made amends and went one better in the 39th minute, rifling home from six yards out after being set up by the shining Adam Lecky.
That was to be as good as it got for the out of form Mallards, who have lost five on the bounce and now take on three of the league’s top six during a tough November schedule.
Their lead didn’t even last until the break as, almost immediately, Carrick raced back up the pitch and McNicholl pulled the trigger for his first of the night.
The Mallards did, to their credit, begin the second half well and Lafferty again went close, testing Carrick keeper Brian Neeson.
At the other end, his opposite number James McGrath couldn’t pull off similar heroics ans McNicholl ran on to a long ball forward to lob the keeper and put his side ahead.
From then, Carrick rarely looked like spurning a much-needed three points - their first Premiership win since they beat Glentoran back in August.
The points were safe in the 72nd minute when Martin Murray tucked away a penalty kick after he had been fouled by Jason McCartney.
The result leaves Portadown cut 11 points adrift at the foot of the table.
The troubled Ports travel to face Glentoran today. Crusaders host Coleraine, Ards welcome Ballymena, Cliftonville go to Dungannon and Glenavon welcome second placed Linfield.