IRISH LEAGUE: Carl McComb's injury-time finish seals Ards win over Portadown
ARDS 1 PORTADOWN 0
Substitutes Jordan Hughes and Carl McComb combined as 10-man Ards grabbed an injury-time winner to seal success over Portadown.
Hughes’ curling free-kick was pushed out by Miskelly in the final seconds - with McComb first to react and tuck away the loose ball.
The decisive moment arrived five minutes after Ards had been reduced to 10 men - following Johnny Taylor’s second booking - and during a period of Ports pressure that featured saves by Aaron Hogg off Brendan Shannon’s free-kick, Mark McAllister’s hooked shot and an Aaron Haire header.
However, the final whistle arrived moments after McComb’s close-range finish to give Ards seven points from the first three games and inflict defeat on a Ports side who kicked off the campaign with an Irish Football Association-imposed 12-point deduction.
Portadown enjoyed a positive start to the match and the majority of possession, with Stephen Hughes sharp in support and McAllister a strong outlet leading the line.
Sammy Simpson delivered teasing balls into the box from the right wing on four occasions across the first half as the Ports pushed for control.
However, Ards carved out the best sights of goal before the break.
A David McAllister corner-kick delivery from the right was headed over by the unmarked Michael Ruddy and Ards’ confidence increased as play progressed.
David Miskelly was forced into a full-stretch diving save to his left on the half-hour mark to push Kyle Cherry’s header on to the post, with Matthew Parker tracking back to clear the rebound.
Portadown struggled to test Hogg, with a Sean Mackle drive from distance flashing past the Ards goalkeeper’s post late in the half.
Play proved tight for the majority of the second half, with clear sights of goal limited.
Ruddy’s looping header cleared the crossbar then Ards substitute Hughes raced in but could not capitalise on a defensive mix-in the Ports backline.
Hughes had a shot deflected wide for the Ports before the closing drama that produced a red card, multiple scoring opportunities and a last-gasp goal.
ARDS: Aaron Hogg, Greg Hall, Johnny Taylor, Emmet Friars, Michael Ruddy, Ross Arthurs, Kyle Cherry, Gareth Tommons, Craig McMillen, David McAllister, Fra Brennan. Subs: Stuart McMullan, Jordan Hughes (McAllister, 69), Carl McComb (Brennan, 58), Gary Liggett (Tommons, 78), Callum Byers.
PORTADOWN: David Miskelly, Brendan Shannon, Matthew Parker, Keith O’Hara, Garry Breen, Niall Henderson, Robert Garrett, Stephen Hughes, Sean Mackle, Mark McAllister, Sammy Simpson. Subs: Chris McGaughey, Eoin Kirwan (Mackle, 66), Aaron Haire (Simpson, 73), Ben Murdock, Mark Carson.
Referee: Arnold Hunter.