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Portadown take advantage into second-leg after five-goal thriller

Billy Stedman produced two moments of magic inside three second-half minutes as Portadown took a major step to senior safety with 3-2 derby delight over Annagh United.

With just two miles separating the clubs on the map but a significant gap in terms of Irish League silverware, the stakes proved high at Tandragee Road in the promotion/relegation play-off first leg.

It was lucky 13 on the clock when Josh Doherty’s inswinging free-kick from the right wing dropped towards the back post and Howard Beverland forced the ball home for a Ports lead.

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Annagh credit throw-ins as the source of 22 per cent of goals this season - and another was added to the stats pack on 21 minutes when Craig Taylor’s delivery found the net off towering centre-back Lee Upton.

Portadown's Stephen Taggart celebrates his goal during this evening's game at BMG Arena, Portadown. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Ciaran McGurgan, the son of a founding Annagh member, took over as manager in 2017 with the club at risk of relegation out of the Irish League structure.

Minutes after the equaliser he was celebrating his side taking a 2-1 lead over four-time Irish League champions in the first game with Premiership football as the prize.

A flowing move involving three former Portadown players featured Niall Henderson feeding the ball into the danger area, Peter Duffin setting the pass back and Stephen Murray drilling home.

Portadown’s response featured a growing urgency but without a significant test to Eoin Hughes between the home posts.

After the break, Adam Salley’s header proved a promising opening.

Murray was presented with two sights of goal in quick succession - with one clearing the crossbar and another saved by Jethren Barr.

Portadown then turned the tables as January arrival Stedman delivered an assist for Stephen Teggart and found the top corner to give the top-flight team a vital advantage.

Annagh substitute Ross Hunter fired goalwards in the closing moments but Portadown survived to carry a slender lead into Friday’s second leg at Shamrock Park.

Annagh United: Hughes, Campbell, Harpur, Henderson, Duffin (Norton 64), Murray, Taylor, Rogers, Upton, Moffatt (Hunter 64).

Subs: Cusack, McKinney, Carroll, Malone, McCullough.

Portadown: Barr, Hall, Ruddy, McCallum, Tipton (Mashigo 54), Salley, Conaty, Teggart, Beverland, Doherty (Smith 64), Stedman (Finnegan 92).

Subs: Burns, Anderson, Murphy, Emerson.

Referee: Christopher Morrison