Published Saturday, 21 December 2013
Matthew Clarke is brought down by Sean Mackle at Windsor Park, Belfast. (© UTV)
The Blues found themselves behind just two minutes into the game at Windsor Park, with Chris Casement netting after Linfield keeper Jonny Tuffey failed to hold on to a seemingly routine catch from a Portadown free kick.
The hosts responded well to the early setback and found an equaliser in the 13th minute - this time Ports stopper David Miskelly was the man at fault, failing to make a clean contact on an attempted punched clearance and allowing Andrew Waterworth to head in from close range.
Waterworth was instrumental in his side's second goal just six minutes later, dummying a Jamie Mulgrew cross which then crept into the bottom corner, before Mark McAllister's superb lob over Miskelly eight minutes into the second half made it 3-1.
Portadown pulled one back when Darren Murray netted in injury time, but it proved a mere consolation for Ronnie McFall's side, as they slipped to their first defeat since the loss to Ballinamallard on 9 November.
The Mallards, of course, have won only once since then, and they suffered a second successive defeat when they lost to Cliftonville at Seaview.
The only goal of the game came in the 50th minute, when Martin Donnelly reacted quickest in a goalmouth scramble after George McMullan's initial effort had struck the post.
The result sees the Reds leapfrog their fierce north Belfast rivals Crusaders, who suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat away to Ballymena United.
Stephen Baxter's side were undefeated in 24 games in all competitions going into Saturday's game, but David Cushley's clever improvised finish from Gary Thompson's quick free kick proved decisive as the Sky Blues completed the double over the Crues.
In the game at the Coleraine Showgrounds, Coleraine fell to their seventh successive league defeat, going down 2-0 at the hands of Dungannon Swifts.
Both sides squandered chances in the first half, but the visitors opened the scoring on the hour mark when Matt Hazley's corner created havoc in the Bannsiders box, with Terry Fitzpatrick eventually forcing the ball over the line.
Stefan Lavery added a second in the 80th minute to leave Coleraine just two points off the relegation play-off place currently occupied by Warrenpoint Town.
Finally, Ards picked up their first point in seven games with a goalless draw against Glentoran at Clandeboye Park.
The hosts had the best of the chances with Ryan Moffett hitting the woodwork for Niall Currie's side, but neither side could make the breakthrough.
The result leaves Ards still rooted to the bottom of the table, while the Glens trail fourth-placed Portadown on goal difference heading into the Boxing Day derbies.
© UTV News