Chance to turn self-belief into self-improvement

Ronnie McFall. Pic by PressEye Ld.
Ronnie McFall. Pic by PressEye Ld.

PORTADOWN will play host to Cliftonville this weekend with 24 points dividing the sides in the Danske Bank Premiership standings.

However, Ronnie McFall considers his panel of players comparable to the league leaders and is keen to continue the positive run of form at Shamrock Park.

The Ports will enter the league test aiming to record a fourth consecutive Danske Bank Premiership victory at Shamrock Park – with clean sheets in each of the previous three games a testament to improved form.

“We always said that the results will improve as players become available,” said McFall. “That has been the case and Cliftonville provide a big challenge as league leaders but one which should bring out the best in our players.

“As signings have come in and other players started to return from injury then, naturally, results have improved.

“We were excellent overall across the Christmas period despite so many games in such a short space of time.

“Gary Twigg is a natural finisher and his partnership with the forwards and other team-mates can only improve with each passing game.

“I am not surprised as how quickly he has settled in at the club as that is always the case with good players.

“I never had any concerns on that score and Gary will only get better and more tuned in over games.

“On Saturday against Dungannon Swifts he had the quality to make the difference and react to situations.

“At times this season we have been successful from set-pieces such as throw-ins but without anyone getting on the end to put the ball away.

“Gary gives us that sharp scorer’s instinct.

“Saturday was all about the result and I felt we had chances to increase the margin of victory, with Dungannon having spells on the ball but never really threatening us.

“We now have another home tie against Ards under the management of Portadown’s Niall Currie.

“They are going well in the IFA Championship 1 and I am expecting another tough test.”

The Ports boss has a strong panel of players open to selection for Cliftonville.

“We should have everyone fit and available this weekend with the exception of Keith O’Hara,” said McFall. “The blank date on Tuesday provided some of the players with extra rest and we now face Lisburn Distillery next week on January 22.

“Aaron Burns is another good player who has come in and will only improve with minutes on the pitch.

“We have also signed Sammy Stewart from the Mid-Ulster Football League.

“He was previously across the water with Aberdeen and also on the books at Glenavon so this move gives him another opportunity to get his Irish League career back on track.”

Kick-off tomorrow (Saturday) will be 3 o’clock, with home fans to enter via the Rectory Park turnstiles.