THE arrival of each New Year can often result in reflection but Portadown manager, Ronnie McFall, only has the future in mind ahead of Crusaders’ visit to Shamrock Park on Monday afternoon.
Victory on Boxing Day in the Mid-Ulster derby helped Portadown close the gap at the top of the Carling Premiership table to just two points, with Linfield – the league leaders - scheduled to play next tomorrow (Saturday).
Monday’s win at Mourneview Park helped extend an unbeaten festive derby record dating back to 1996. However, McFall’s focus remains on future challenges.
“I keep on saying it but we face a long season and should expect plenty of twists and turns,” said the Ports boss. “To be honest, I probably expected Crusaders to sit higher up the table at this point and we know exactly how difficult a game it is going to be on Monday.
“We made mistakes in the last match with Crusaders at Shamrock Park but you cannot legislate for human error.
“I have complete trust in my players to produce a performance and the Glenavon win was the perfect example as we kept a clean sheet but also deserved the victory.
“There is always a lot at stake on derby day but I felt we were never really in trouble and David Miskelly did not have an awful lot to do.
“We were well in control and Glenavon opted to go route one in the second half.
“It was a superb finish from Kevin Braniff for our first goal and the partnership up top with Matthew Tipton certainly created problems early on for Glenavon.
“However, we lost Matthew to a muscle issue around his rib cage and that forced us into a reshuffle.
“Conor McCloskey came on and caused Glenavon a few problems with his pace and it is important that every player in the squad understands they have a part to play, either in the starting line-up or off the bench.
“We just told the players to remain patient and then the second goal killed the match, with Neil McCafferty taking the penalty following Matthew’s injury.”
Portadown drafted the club captain, Keith O’Hara, into the side against Glenavon and will review his fitness ahead of Monday’s match.
“We just need to keep an eye on Keith as a groin injury can prove tricky,” said McFall. “Garry Breen has a touch of illness at the minute and Sean Mackle continues to get treatment on his hamstring injury.
“However, everyone is looking forward to Monday’s game and the chance to build on Boxing Day.”
Kick-off on Monday at Shamrock Park will be 3 o’clock.