IRISH LEAGUE: Kirwan on target as Portadown rescue point at Carrick
Portadown substitute Eoin Kirwan grabbed a vital goal for the visitors three minutes after stepping off the sidelines to salvage a share of the spoils in the battle with basement rivals Carrick Rangers.
Portadown attacked from the start in search of a crucial goal.
Aaron Haire was presented with a chance after just two minutes as his dummy allowed Mark Carson’s pass to reach Robert Garrett but the return ball inside the box was fired over the crossbar.
Haire proved alert to connect to a Brendan Shannon cross towards the near post from the right then steer goalwards a Matthew Parker delivery but Brian Neeson collected the looping header.
Both sides entered half-time having a goal disallowed and aiming for greater success in front of the net over the second half.
Carson came close on two occasions in quick succession just before the hour mark - with neat footwork creating space inside the box but both shots blocked.
Carson almost turned provider moments later with an angled sliderule pass towards the box but Neeson raced out to block the progress of the supporting Shannon.
Portadown pressure failed to produce a reward and the visitors felt the cost on 62 minutes as Adam Salley picked up possession in the danger zone, created space with clever footwork and guided home a shot inside the near post.
Kirwan then made his mark on 82 minutes with a bouncing shot from inside the box that found the top corner to cap superb approach play from midfield by Garrett, plus Carson and substitute Sean Mackle.
Carrick substitute Daniel Kelly had a looping header with the final effort of the match but his attempt drifted over the crossbar off Steven McCullough’s free-kick.
CARRICK RANGERS: Brian Neeson, Lee Chapman, Nathan Hanley, Mark Surgenor, Martin Murray, Fra Rice, TJ.Murray, Steven McCullough, Paddy McNally, Adam Salley, Tiernan McNicholl. Subs: Chris Morrow (Salley, 69), Daniel Kelly (Hanley, 63), Jonathan Wilson (Murray, 83), Glenn Taggart, Gary Lavery.
PORTADOWN: Chris McGaughey, Mark Carson, Keith O’Hara, Garry Breen, Alan Byrne, Niall Henderson, Robert Garrett, Brendan Shannon, Matthew Parker, Aaron Haire, Stephen Hughes. Subs: Conor Larkin, Sean Mackle (Henderson, 69), Sam Simpson, Eoin Kirwan (Parker, 79), Zak Wilson.
Referee: Keith Kennedy.