McGibbon making positive steps forward despite Ports defeat

Pat McGibbon. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Pat McGibbon. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

After a week of off-the-field progress for Portadown, interim boss Pat McGibbon was quick to identify small steps of recovery on the pitch despite the weekend defeat to Coleraine.

McGibbon, who returned to the Ports this season as physio following two previous spells at centre-back, switched his seat in the Shamrock Park dug-out on Saturday to take charge of the club for the first time.

The departure of Ronnie McFall the previous weekend after 29 years as Portadown manager marked a dramatic end to the club’s hopes of silverware this season.

However, the priority now must turn to staying clear of the Danske Bank Premiership drop zone and McGibbon admits frustration at the lack of any end product to his first week in control.

“Our fitness levels dropped off in the last 20 minutes and it was a real shame not to start off with the right result,” said McGibbon, a former Northern Ireland international, following the 1-0 reverse. “There is still more work to do, of course, but we can take encouragement from the effort put in, not just on Saturday but across training.

“We had senior players out and it was disappointing not to have Philip Lowry available because of work commitments.

“Philip is paramount to what we are trying to do and we talked on the Friday night but could not sort anything out and it meant a late change for Saturday.

“Garry Breen was superb at the back and more like the player I remember from the past.

“We looked good in defence but lacked that aggression going forward and, at times, looked to be playing more of a 4-5-1, with the wide players not getting forward enough in support.

“We fielded a young side but you look at Nathaniel Ferris and how positive he was coming off the bench for his senior debut.

“We will talk about what to add and work on it this weekend in training.

“We do not want to be one-dimensional in our play and at times that was the case against Coleraine, with the big exception one really nice passing move in the first half.”

McGibbon also expressed his thanks to the fanbase for turning out in such large numbers.

“It was great to see such a big crowd at the game,” said McGibbon. “The reception at the start was great, plus how the fans reacted at the final whistle was brilliant, with so much encouragement.

“We want to give the supporters something to cheer and bring the players and fans closer together, even if it is as simple as spending some time together after the match.

“It is about unity and having one club working together.”