Portadown 5, Ballymena United 5

Portadown's Ross Redman and Ballymena's Matthew Tipton during Saturday's match at Shamrock Park. Picture: Press Eye.
Portadown's Ross Redman and Ballymena's Matthew Tipton during Saturday's match at Shamrock Park. Picture: Press Eye.

Ballymena United and Portadown shared 10 goals in an astonishing Danske Bank Premiership encounter at Shamrock Park.

The SKy Blues looked dead and buried as they trailed 5-3 with six minutes to go but staged an amazing comeback to rescue a point.

On a snow-covered surface which had mistakes written all over it, a frantic opening saw goals at both ends of the pitch inside the opening five minutes.

The home side went in front inside three minutes after a sweeping move started by Robert Garret, who released Peter McMahon down the right hand channel.

The winger stood up a cross to the back post which was chested down by Darren Murray for Gary Twigg to blast high into the net from 12 yards.

Ballymena’s response was almost immediate as they were level within two minutes.

Tony Kane took a quick throw-in down the right flank which defender Gary Breen attempted to clear but his clearance cannoned off Matthew Tipton and the striker sezied upon the loose ball and cut inside onto his left foot before curling a shot into the bottom corner.

Tipton had a great pportunity to put Ballymena ahead on eight minutes when he was played in by Gary Thompson but the striker’s fierce shot was beaten away by Miskelly.

Instead it was Portadown who went back on front after 12 minutes when Peter McMahon cut inside from the right flank and his low shot trundled through a ruck of players before going in off the inside of the post.

And as the Ports looked to exploit Ballymena’s much-publicised defensive vulnerabilities, Twigg’s low cross was stopped at full stretch by Johnny Taylor, with Stuart Addis able to pick up the loose ball.

Darren Murray’s long throws were a potent weapon for Portadown and from one of those, Allan Jenkins’ attempted clearance flicked off his head to the abck post where McMahon fired over.

Ballymena wasted a glorious opportunity to restore parity on 26 minutes when Gary Thompson’s cross from the left found its way to Tipton but the striker volleyed over from close range with no flag raised by the referee’s assistant.

And again it proved a pivotal moment as Portadown added a third goal in their next attack. Murray slipped a pass through to Twigg who ran through a yawning gap in the United rearguard before rolling a shot past Addis.

Ballymena refused to lie down and cut the deficit on 42 minutes. Gary McCutcheon played in Tipton down the left flank and from his cut-back, Jenkins’ shot was parried by Miskelly but the rebound fell kindly for the unmarked Boyce to fire home the rebound.

Portadown had another opening in the early minutes of the second half as Robert Garrett got in behind the United defence but the ball got tangled among his feet as he was preapring to shoot and the chance was lost.

From another Portadown attack, McMahon stood up a cross from the left to the back post where Gary Breen’s downward header was pushed around the post by Addis.

It was no great surprise when Portadown added a fourth goal on 68 minutes when Twigg ran clear and got away as Tony Kane lost his footing, with Twigg completing his hat-trick by drilling a shot through Addis’ legs.

Ballymena still refused to give in and scored again after Tony Kane’s free kick was glanced home by Johnny Taylor on 79 minutes.

Again, Portadown attacked and made it five as Darren Murray again raced clear to round Addis and run the ball into the unguarded net.

At 5-3, the game appeared to be over but Ballymena scored a fourth on 84 minutes when another Kane free kikc delivery looped over Miskelly, with Matthew Tipton credited with the final touch.

And incredibly, the Sky Blues drew level on 87 minutes when Kane’s cross from the right found Allan Jenkins, who forced the ball past Miskelly.

Remarkably, Portadown had two chances to win it in stoppage time as firstly Gault had a shot blocked by Addis and then Sean Mackle shot tamely at Addis as a memorbale game drew to a close.

Portadown: Miskelly, Casement (sub Lyttle 46), Ramsey, Breen, Redman, Mackle, Gault, Garrett, P McMahon, Murray, Twigg. Subs (not used): Brennan, McElroy, M McMahon, Conaty.

Ballymena United: Addis, Kane, Munster, Taylor, McBride, McCaul (sub Ervin 69), Jenkins, Thompson, McCutcheon (sub Cushley 84), Boyce, Tipton. Subs (not used): McAllister, Gawley, Teggart.

Referee: Ian McNabb (Glengormley)