IRISH LEAGUE: Niall Currie’s challenge to Portadown for crunch Ballinamallard visit

Portadown manager Niall Currie. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Portadown manager Niall Currie. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Niall Currie is calling on his players to push aside the derby disappointment of Boxing Day and channel that frustration into the final fixture of 2016.

Portadown visit Ballinamallard United tonight (Friday) in a crunch clash between two sides struggling for form across the Danske Bank Premiership.

The Ports’ relegation fight suffered a last-gasp setback at Shamrock Park against Glenavon when Mark Sykes’ injury-time free-kick found the net to force a 2-0 draw and complete the visitors’ fightback from 2-0 down.

However, Currie is keen to pick out the positives of the additional point ahead of a second festive league test inside five days.

“The boys were superb and sometimes you don’t get what you deserve, which we felt was the case on Boxing Day,” said Currie. “It’s hard not to be disappointed and the players were down in the changing room but, in a way, that is a good thing as it shows how much they care.

“We must go in the right direction off two high-tempo performances against Dungannon Swifts and Glenavon and not be flat now at Ballinamallard.

“That performance gives us a foundation and the boys have been excellent so we must go to Ballinamallard United now and do the same, that’s the key.

“It’s another point on the board, despite the disappointment of not taking three.

“A win on Friday puts pressure on the teams above us and I said about how difficult it would be to keep us up but I’m so pleased with the players.

“There was real application but we didn’t get the rub of the green in a lot of ways.

“However, we also had massive chances to win it and could have come away with a lead of three or four.

“They got it back to 2-1 after we missed one-on-one chances and once they scored one they had pace on the break that can hurt you.

“We were able to counter on a few occasions and had another great chance but couldn’t get the third goal.

“It is a kick in the teeth but the application and endeavour were brilliant, with no shortage of quality as we got it down and played.

“It’s a sickener but we must move on and stay positive as that was a point against a good team.”

An increased attacking threat offered encouraging signs for continued progress under Currie.

“I felt we dominated the game, with the most clearcut chances,” he said. “We have a quick turnaround between Boxing Day and Friday and we need to keep the positivity, with the boys in a good place.

“Aaron Haire is working so hard up top as part of the front two.

“Mark McAllister was outstanding against Glenavon and brings that quality as he sees pictures on the pitch.

“Once Mark gets more training and minutes under his belt he will only get better.

“We remain keen to give young players a chance, especially as we have some real quality on the books.

“But it is about giving them the right environment to best develop.”

Kick-off will be 8 o’clock at Ballinamallard.