PORT Glasgow moved up to fourth place in the league table and kept their promotion hopes alive with this win at Newmains on Saturday.

But the victory was probably the hardest fought of the season, as Newmains belied their bottom-of-the-table status with a spirited performance under new manager John Fallon junior.

However, the biggest leveller was the surface at Victoria Park, which was simply awful, and way below what should be expected at junior level.

The rutted pitch made any kind of passing movements virtually impossible, and made decent players look silly as they tried to cope with bobble after bobble.

Newmains are on their knees this season and fighting for the club’s very survival, but any future investment should prioritise the hiring of a roller.

Back at the action, it was the Port who exerted all the early pressure, but they were stunned when Newmains opened the scoring after just 17 minutes.

It was, to be fair, a terrific goal from the impressive Peter Byrne, as he collected the ball outside the box and drove a flighted shot over the outstretched arms of Port keeper Bryan Tucker and high into the net.

With the home side being urged on from the sidelines by the vocal Fallon, Byrne almost repeated his goal feat five minutes later, this time a low long-range effort which saw Tucker pull off a diving save.

Both sides were then reduced to 10 men on 25 minutes.

As they jostled for position in the Newmains box awaiting a Port free-kick, home centre-half McKellar Scott lashed out at Eddie Walton, who seemed to retaliate.

The incident was spotted by referee Ross Birrell, who showed the red card to both players, with the inevitable three-game ban meaning Walton will miss most of the remainder of the season.

The Port were really struggling to make any inroads on the poor surface, and they almost fell two behind on 41 minutes, when Paul Keenan shrugged off a challenge from Paul Coyle and bore in on goal, but Tucker came to the rescue as he blocked Keenan’s shot with his legs.

The Port keeper then had to be alert again just before half-time, turning a Michael Stewart free-kick from outside the box round the post.

A dramatic change was needed in the second half if the Port’s promotion prospects were not going to die.

The surface didn’t change, but the Port’s work-rate and tempo did, and they were rewarded with the equaliser just six minutes into the second half.

A neat flick from Ross Kearns took him free of Newmains left-back Edward McArdle, and Kearns’ cross into the box was met by Craig McCormick, who headed home at the back post to level the match.

With Newmains now pinned back and rarely seen in attack, it was all Port Glasgow now, and they deservedly went in front on 68 minutes.

Alan Jamieson collected the ball out on the right wing and evaded several challenges as he muscled his way into the box before sending over an inviting cross for Jamie McKenna to head home from six yards out.

Referee Birrell then played a good advantage after a Newmains foul to allow McKenna a run through on goal, but the striker’s shot found the side-netting.

Dylan McLaughlin had been a thorn in the side of the Newmains defence for practically the whole game, but he was more frustrated than most that the condition of the pitch was hampering his undoubted ball-skills, and was sailing close to the wind after an earlier yellow card.

Manager Craig Brown then made the wise decision to substitute McLaughlin for his own good for the second successive match, and although the player has made a great impression since his recent signing, a word in his ear about controlled aggression might not be a bad idea.

It would have been a travesty if the Port had not won this match, and yet Newmains almost snatched a point two minutes from time, and it was that man Byrne again, who got on the end of a free-kick into the Port box and blasted in a shot which was well saved by Tucker.

Port boss Brown was relieved to have come out of such a difficult match with three points.

He said: “Right from the first minute we had to deal with time-wasting, a horrendous park and a poor referee.

“So to come out in the second half and turn things around with that battling performance was excellent.

“On paper it may look like a run of the mill victory, but with all the things against us it was anything but, and I was absolutely delighted with the three points.” PORT GLASGOW: Tucker, Knight, Jamieson, Walton, Irvine, Gault, Kearns, Coyle, McKenna, McLaughlin (Black 87), McCormick. Subs not used: McAfee, Stevenson, Nugent.

Port Glasgow Juniors are sponsored by Regents Vehicle Sales, Greenock, and MAC HSL Ltd.