Portadown searching for ‘final 10 per cent’ to turn progress into points
With life tough at the top table in pursuit of Premiership points, Portadown manager Matthew Tipton is searching for the “final 10 per cent” he feels can reward his players’ individual and collective growth.
A first season at senior level for Tipton’s Ports has left the club sitting 10th with four wins from 26 appearances ahead of a weekend visit to face Glentoran.
A midweek loss to Crusaders marked another night of frustration for Tipton in which his players suffered from the unforgiving learning curve of top-flight football.
However, Tipton’s disappointment centres on how close his players stand to regular returns rather than how far away from more experienced senior rivals.
“No-one is celebrating losing only by 2-1 on Tuesday to Crusaders instead of 5-0 against the same side back last December,” said Tipton. “But I can see the progress made and do not think teams come away from playing Portadown thinking it was ever an easy game.
“I see a group of players learning all about how tight it can be at this standard and how any mistake will get punished.
“But when we concede sloppy goals off our mistakes rather than the opposition cutting us open it is encouraging to see how annoyed it leaves our players.
“I see across the team how players have grown over the season and that clear progress cements the belief we remain within sight of more often turning tight defeats into draws then, ultimately, draws into wins.
“In many ways, Tuesday hurt more losing by 2-1 than 5-0 against the Crues as it is always that final 10 per cent needed to make the real difference.
“We are not in a position of nothing working when it’s almost easier to simply rip it all up and start from scratch...the toughest part of building anything can be those final small but vital gains.”
Tipton reserved special praise for defenders Adam McCallum and Nathan Kerr following significant steps by each player.
“For the past four or five games now we’ve seen Nathan come in and show that consistency,” said Tipton. “We’ve always been aware of his technical and attacking strengths but the defensive side of his game has really developed.
“Adam is really becoming a leader in the side, which comes from the confidence of playing week in and week out but also his standard of performance.
“You always want stability along the backline as much as possible but this season we’ve lost players for various reasons and it’s never just about swapping one name for another, absences tend to result in a reshuffle across multiple positions or tactically.
“But when you see the standards delivered of late by players such as Adam and Nathan and how, overall, the players have adapted to those demands and continued to be competitive...it can only increase our confidence we are moving in the right direction.”
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