PORTADOWN manager Ronnie McFall has faith his players can produce a memorable night at Shamrock Park on Monday and overturn the 3-2 first-leg deficit when Drogheda United come to town.
The Setanta Sports Cup first-round clash remains in the balance thanks to away goals by Aaron Burns and Kevin Braniff during this week’s cross-border trip.
As a result, McFall has set his players a simple target of win or bust.
“We played some half-decent stuff in Drogheda and should go into Monday’s second leg with nothing to fear,” said the Ports boss. “We got off to a bad start but displayed a lot of heart and character to get it back to 2-2 before conceding a third.
“Those two super away goals effectively keep the tie open and if we win next week that should get us into the next round.
“Drogheda have some quality players but the competition remains one we want to progress in and should still be viewed as one with a lot of prestige.
“It presents players with a different test and we can take a lot of positives out of how we played on Monday in Drogheda.”
Injury issues forced McFall to draft in Jamie McArdle between the posts and the Ports boss also opted to hand Ciaran Rooney his senior debut in the centre of the park.
“This competition is something similar to Europe in that we travel on a team bus and use it to help bond the squad together,” said McFall. “I have always been keen to blood young players in the competition as a result and remember handing Ross Redman his debut in the Setanta Sports Cup.
“David Miskelly was struggling with his hamstring and attempted to test it before kick-off but had to pull out.
“Jamie has stepped in a few times this season and I have no hesitation in putting him in for any game.
“Ciaran made his debut and is certainly a player for the future.
“He is comfortable on the ball, confident in his ability and someone who works hard and understands his role.
“Players like Chris Casement and Brian Gartland have been struggling with hamstring problems and now we must take a look at David and Ross before the weekend game with Dungannon Swifts in the league then Monday’s Drogheda match.
“On Saturday, it was all about the result to see off Ards and set up a quarter-final visit to Coleraine in the Irish Cup.
“It will be the same against Dungannon and Drogheda as we want to progress as much as possible.
“We still have a spot in the top six of the league as a target so need to do everything possible to come away from Dungannon with the right result.
“Then the focus will turn to another must-win match on Monday against Drogheda.”
Kick-off tomorrow (Saturday) will be 3 o’clock, with Monday’s home tie set to start at 7.45.