IRISH LEAGUE: Positive Portadown thanks to team talk with expert

Portadown manager Niall Currie and teenage centre-back Ross Larkin celebrate Friday's 1-1 draw against Linfield. Pic by Pacemaker.
Portadown manager Niall Currie and teenage centre-back Ross Larkin celebrate Friday's 1-1 draw against Linfield. Pic by Pacemaker.

Portadown have turned to one of the country’s leading sports psychologists for clear-the-air talks within the senior squad.

A season-long relegation battle received a welcome boost on Friday with the Ports’ spirited 1-1 draw away to title-chasing Linfield.

Only an injury-time equaliser prevented Niall Currie’s men from recording a dramatic victory - and the determined display arrived 24 hours after a team meeting with Dr Mark Elliott.

Dr Elliott has worked with world-class athletes covering fields including football, rugby, golf and ice hockey.

Currie called in the expert to help Portadown regroup for the rest of the season in the aftermath of a demoralising 3-0 reverse to struggling Ards the previous weekend.

The Ports boss accepts the session should not be seen as a magic wand to solve all problems but feels the clean slate can now serve the club for future challenges.

“We had a full turnout and felt it was really productive,” said Currie. “Small things matter and everyone had an open floor to discuss any issues.

“It really helped clear a number of areas and now the goal is to approach the rest of the season with fresh focus.

“Dr Elliott was a massive help and it was a really informative night, with the players taking full advantage of the opportunity.

“There was a real renewed sense of togetherness the next night at Windsor Park against Linfield.

“We worked so hard for each other, with a massive shift put in by every single player.

“In the end, we left Windsor Park disappointed with only a single point for our reward.”

The Ports now take on defending champions Crusaders at Shamrock Park this Saturday in an evening fixture. Kick-off will be 5.30 but there is a special discount entry fee of £5 before 4.30, with a beer tent and promotions running from 3 o’clock.

“There should be a cracking atmosphere,” said Currie. “I’m a big fan of night games and trying to do something different to get more fans past the turnstiles.

“Credit to the organisers.”