Irish Premiership: Portadown 1-1 Linfield

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Portadown salvage a point with a late penalty against Linfield in the Premiership encounter at Shamrock Park.

A late penalty by Darren Murray gave Portadown a draw in a pulsating Premiership clash against Linfield.

Referee Mark Courtney gave a hand-ball decision against Billy Joe Burns and Murray's spot-kick just about got the better of keeper Jonathan Tuffey.

Linfield had looked to be on their way to an opening day victory when Peter Thompson scored in the 53rd minute.

Thompson turned to beat a number of Ports defenders before prodding a low shot past home keeper David Miskelly.

The 88th-minute equaliser will be a frustrating setback for Linfield, and their manager David Jeffrey had an exchange with the referee as the teams made their way off the pitch after the game.

The Blues, facing a tough-looking set of opening fixtures as they aim to reclaim the Premiership crown they surrendered to runaway champions Cliftonville last April, must have thought they had got off to a winning start when striker Thompson scored his fine goal.

But then Murray, who had earlier fluffed a couple of good chances after the restart, grabbed the draw from the spot.

It came when Burns went down and was adjudged to have handled the ball when on the ground.

Linfield seemed to claim that Burns had been fouled but the penalty was given. Tuffey almost saved it, but Murray's kick just had enough to cross the line.

In the first half, Portadown felt they should have had a penalty when Gary Twigg hit the deck under the challenge of Linfield's Burns but referee Mark Courtney waved the protests away.