Numbers game paints positive picture for long-term progress

A statistic of 34 players having lined out across the firsts’ five Qualifying League games to date offers an insight into the depth of selection issues this season at Chambers Park.

However, the return of just one defeat suffered by the firsts, seconds or thirds serves up a fact as the foundation of head coach Richard Hedley’s optimism.

“We have had to make a lot of changes to the firsts, which obviously then impacts the seconds and trickles down the pecking order,” said Hedley. “But the response from the players has been superb and just one defeat so far over three teams is a massive improvement on last season.

“Although it has been a case of shuffling around players, we can still go in and dominate games so that confirms how much hard work has been put in over the club.

“To be in a position to have such reliable numbers is a great boost and we are gradually improving, with the fitness levels moving in the right direction and that winning habit starting to form.

“We visit CIYMS in the Junior Cup this weekend and must continue this positive approach against a side much better than results would show so far.”

Portadown firsts defeated Omagh by 18-14 at Chambers Park on Saturday, with Hedley’s video analysis helping to reveal the level of progress.

“From the sidelines during a game you only see the negatives but the post-match video allows a view of the bigger picture,” said Hedley. “We are creating so many chances and could have finished clear winners against Omagh with that finishing touch.

“The big plus this season is how few points we are conceding, despite so many changes to the line-up, compared to last year.

“It tells you a lot about the determination within the group and the hard work put in by everyone across the pitch.

“Training has improved significantly and you can see the progress of the players.

“We are getting results in close games, compared to defeats last year under similar circumstances.”