United Euro hopes end after defeat by Portadown

Ballymena United's Gary Thompson and Portadown's Chris Casement compete for an aerial challenge during today's Danske Bank Premiership game at the Showgrounds. Picture: Press Eye.

Ballymena United's Gary Thompson and Portadown's Chris Casement compete for an aerial challenge during today's Danske Bank Premiership game at the Showgrounds. Picture: Press Eye.

Ballymena United’s hopes of reaching the Europa League play-off came to crashing halt as they lost 2-0 to Portadown in their final Danske Bank Premiership game.

The Sky Blues came into the game knowing that only a victory would be enough to have a chance of claiming seventh spot but it rarely looked like materialising as United produced a flat performance as the visitors triumphed thanks to goals from Ken Oman and Matty Parker.

The first chance of the game fell to Portadown on 13 minutes as Tim Mouncey, under no real pressure, headed over from Matty Parker’s corner from eight yards.

Nathaniel Ferris was next to threaten for Portadown with a rising shot which Alan Blayney dived to his right to confidently hold.

Ballymena’s first effort didn’t come until the 22nd minute when Nathan Hanley curled a free kick around the Portadown defensive wall, only to see his effort cannon off the outside of the post for a goal kick.

Just as a turgid opening half looked to be ending in scoreless stalemate, Portadown struck a decisive blow in stoppage time.

Matty Parker curled in a free kick from the right flank and Ports captain Ken Oman rose highest among a posse of players to steer home a header.

It was very telling that Ballymena were missing the aerial presence of centre-back Johnny Taylor, who was off the pitch receiving treatment for an injury he sustained while giving away the free kick that led to the goal. Taylor didn’t re-emerge for the second half and was replaced by Paddy McNally.

United came close to levelling the score three minutes after the restart when Jim Ervin played in Willie Faulkner whose low angled shot was well kept out by Miskelly, low down.

And it proved a vital stop as the Ports went on to double their lead on 55 minutes.

Robert Garrett did the spadework on the right flank, his low cross fell to Marcio Soares whose clever drag-back earned him a yard of space and when his poked effort came back off the post, Matty Parker was on hand to steer home the loose ball.

Ballymena tried hard to get back into the game but their final pass was too often off target as the season petered out to a disappointing finale.

Ballymena United: Blayney, Ervin, McVey, Taylor (sub McNally 46), Hanley (sub E Kane 78), Frazer, Thompson (sub Douglas 90), Jenkins, Millar, Faulkner, Henderson. Subs (not used): Nelson, Douglas, Ruddy.

Portadown: Miskelly, Casement, Oman, Breen, Parker, Mackle, Garrett, Gault, Mouncey, Soares,Ferris (sub McAllister 90+1). Subs (not used: Marron, Redman, Twigg, Richardson.

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)