Derby date a key stop in the race for Europe

Gary Twigg was left frustrated in front of goal last weekend at The Oval. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Gary Twigg was left frustrated in front of goal last weekend at The Oval. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Portadown manager Ronnie McFall has backed his players to produce a winning performance in Saturday’s crucial derby date with Glenavon.

The race for European qualification - and significant financial rewards - has now hit the closing two games of the Danske Bank Premiership.

The Ports, Glenavon and Cliftonville remain in contention to secure a top-three position.

Glenavon hold a two-point advantage over Portadown before this weekend’s Mid-Ulster meeting. Cliftonville sit three points behind the Lurgan side.

“It is a must-win game but we will not change our attacking approach despite any increased defensive risk,” said the Ports boss. “I have confidence in the players that they can handle the situation and produce the quality to grab the result.

“We cannot worry about other sides or the sideshow to any fixture, with our only concern the push for three points.

“We go out to win every game and I should have a strong panel available, with Ken Oman the only injury worry.

“He pulled up against Glentoran last weekend with a groin problem.

“Jordan Lyttle came on to replace Ken and stood up well to the test during what is basically his debut season at senior level.

“European qualification is still in our own hands.”

The derby will provide Chris Casement with his final appearance before starting a six-game ban imposed this week by the Irish Football Association disciplinary committee.

“The next step is in the hands of the club and, as manager and players, we must now keep our focus on the match,” said McFall. “However, there is certainly a feeling of a grave injustice.

“We will use that as extra motivation.”

McFall has also expressed his concerns for the fanbase following a decision to stage the Irish Cup final at The Oval.

“As a team, we do not worry about the venue and it just comes down to a football pitch,” said McFall. “However, I feel the supporters have been treated like second-class citizens.

“Ravenhill, a better facility for the fans, is going to be sitting vacant.”