FOOTBALL: Stunning Peter Duffin volley clinches top six place for Portadown
Limavady United 1, Portadown 1
PORTADOWN substitute, Peter Duffin netted a spectacular equaliser in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to clinch a top six place at Limavady.
The Ports twice had goals disallowed during a 10 minutes spell in the first half with goals from Gary Warwick and Darren Henderson flagged for offside.
And Limavady deservedly took the lead after a strong start to the second half when Andy Devlin poked the ball home on 55 minutes following a free-kick from player/manager, Paul Owens.
The visitors were camped in the Limavady half as they searched for the equaliser with the Roesiders defending resolutely. However, deep into second half injury time Niall Currie's men forced a corner and it fell to Duffin on the edge of the box who buried his volley magnificently into the top corner.
The draw secured Portadown's place in the top six with one game to go before the split while Limavady moved above PSNI and into ninth.
The home side started positively and came so close to finding the breakthrough after just four minutes following a quick break.
Hugh Carlin played a sublime defence-splitting pass into the path of Robbie Hume who shrugged off the attentions of his marker, rounded the keeper before rattling the upright with a powerful strike.
Owens then dispossessed Adam McCallum deep into the Portadown half, cut inside before curling his shot safely into the hands of Chris McCaughey.
The home support breathed a palpable sigh of relief on 21 minutes when the referee's assistant correctly ruled Warwick's close range effort out for offside. A long punt upfield from McCaughey found Chris Lavery and his shot was parried into the path of Warwick who slotted into the net and when the official's flag went up there was few complaints from the Portadown players.
Twelve minutes later Portadown again had the ball in the back of the net when Darren Henderson headed Greg Hall's shot past Paul Wells but the assistant referee again raised his flag for offside. This call was certainly a lot closer than the first as the teams went into the interval on level terms.
Limavady started the second half strongly and Ryan Logue cut inside on his right foot before sending a powerful shot goalwards but it was tipped behind superbly by McCaughey.
Three minutes later and Owens floated a free-kick into the Portadown penalty area and when the Ports defence failed to clear, Devlin was on hand to slot home.
Limavady's Gerard Gillen was fortunate to escape with a caution after recklessly bringing down Gary Kilmartin on 69 minutes on the halfway line before Logue shot into the side netting from a promising position moments later.
The home side were soaking up the pressure but from a quick counter on 79 minutes they could've added a second as they found themselves with four against three but Hume perhaps went for the wrong option as he spread it to his right where the otherwise impressive Aaron Canning blasted over.
It looked like Limavady would hold on for a morale boosting victory but from a corner kick, Wells punched towards the edge of the area where Duffin volleyed ferociously into the top corner to spark the celebrations among the away support.
It really was a terrific strike and a valuable one for the Shamrock Park club who kept intact their bid for a promotion play-off spot.
Limavady United - P. Wells; A. Canning, J. Watt, G. Crown, A. Devlin; C. McCloskey (G. McFadden 82), H. Carlin, G. Gillan; P. Owens, R. Hume, R. Logue; Subs Not Used - D. McKeever, L. Harkin, L. Bradley, Z. Barr.
Portadown - C. McCaughey; K. McVey, N. Henderson, A. McCallum, G. Hall; G. Warwick (P. Duffin 70), L. Wilson (C. Ferris 81), G. Kilmartin, C. Lavery; A. Salley, D. Henderson (J. Holmes 70); Subs Not Used - R. Larkin, D. McCullough.
Referee - Gary Stewart (Castledawson).