EVAN Tweed's first half strike handed Institute a precious victory over Portadown at Brandywell to move Kevin Deery's charges to within two points of the Reds with a game in hand.
'Stute remain in third spot in the Playr-fit NIFL Championship table but are hot on the heels of both second placed Portadown and leaders Dundela who won 4-2 at home to Newington and moved three clear at the top.
Following a 4-1 reversal at the hands of Niall Curry's men earlier in the season - a game Deery felt his team dominated and unfortunate not to pick up a point - it was a satisfying afternoon on Foyleside for the Creggan man.
Carndonagh native Tweed scored the decisive goal on 43 minutes and it was a fine, composed finish to ensure 'Stute bounced back from last week's defeat to Harland & Wolff Welders.
Portadown dominated territory in the second half but 'Stute defended valiantly and emerged deserving winners in the end.'Stute were first to threaten four minutes in when Michael Harris found himself in space on the right wing, raced in behind his man and crossed towards Kirk McLaughlin. The striker made a clever run towards the front post but sliced his effort into the side netting.
Harris' shot into a sea of red defenders inside the penalty area deflected wide for a corner after the ball broke to the 'Stute wideman following Tiernan McKinney's free-kick.From the resultant corner on 11 minutes, Patrick McClure peeled off his man at the back post but Ports keeper, Aaron Hogg got an outstretched hand to the defender's low shot inside a packed penalty area and the visitors were able to clear the danger.
Portadown had an opportunity of their own 15 minutes into the first half when Mark Russell crossed dangerously into the box but Eamon Fyfe's glancing header went just wide of the target.Portadown came close to opening the scoring on 37 minutes when Ryan Mayse found the run of Fyfe and the striker's shot on the half volley from 20 yards forced an acrobatic one-handed save from Gareth Muldoon who turned it over the crossbar.
From the corner kick Ross Redman's delivery was met by the head of Christopher Rodgers but his effort was deflected narrowly wide of the post by a Stute defender.
It was 'Stute who broke the deadlock in impressive fashion from a corner kick which fell to Tweed who was lurking on the edge of the area. The midfielder created space with a neat touch before rifling the ball past the Ports keeper two minutes before the break - his second goal of the season!
There was some confusion after Portadown had the ball in the back of the net on the hour mark as Fyfe smashed the ball into the net after it was crossed into the six yard box. However, referee Shane McGonigle signalled for a corner kick as the ball had gone out of play much to the despair of the visiting bench.
Former Dungannon Swifts skipper Ryan Mayse tried his luck during a dominant spell for Portadown but volleyed into the hands of Muldoon.Deery made a double substitution in an attempt to stem the tide with Mark Mbuli and Liam Mullan introduced to the fray and instructed to 'put in a shift'.
INSTITUTE: Gareth Muldoon;Shaun Leppard, Patrick McClure (Bobby Deane 87), Evan Tweed (Mark Mbuli 71), Dylan King, Tiarnan McKinney (Orrin McLaughin 87), Sean Carlin (Liam Mullan 71). Michael Harris, Oisin Devlin, Shane Boyle, Kirk McLaughlin (Bradley Callaghan 61).
PORTADOWN: Aaron Hogg, Ross Redman, Christopher Rodgers, Luke Wilson, Lee Chapman, Eoghan McCawl, Ryan Mayse (Joe Williamson 90), Mark Russell (Samuel Cochrane 75), Kenneth Kane, Eamon Fyfe, Gary Thompson (Caolin Coyle 75).
REFEREE: Shane McGonigle.