Portadown interim manager Pat McGibbon is refusing to use next week’s Irish Football Association disciplinary hearing as an excuse for poor results as the threat of relegation dominates discussions on two fronts.
Club officials will stand before the IFA on Tuesday in relation to salary protocol issues and speculation has suggested potential punishments may include a points deduction or automatic relegation.
A run of 10 defeats from the 12 Danske Bank Premiership games of 2016 has left the Ports just four points above the relegation zone. McGibbon’s appointment until the end of the season - following the resignation of Ronnie McFall - has featured four consecutive defeats.
The former Northern Ireland international retains confidence that the hard yards on the training field will eventually result in matchday results.
The Ports have held and lost leads over the past three games but McGibbon points to signs of improved fitness levels and standard of play as cause for optimism.
“It is always difficult when you have off-the-field concerns but we can only focus on what remains under our control,” said McGibbon. “We have to get on with the job of getting results and points as time is running out.
“From day one we have made it clear the remit of the players must stay on the pitch.
“A stretch of poor results makes it hard but there can be no magic wand and we must tackle the lack of confidence alongside fundamental areas such as fitness.”
McGibbon will utilise the forthcoming blank weekend by introducing another fitness session tomorrow (Saturday).
“In games we have seen fitness levels getting better thanks to the work done on the training pitch,” said McGibbon. “As that area improves, the concentration levels will also get better and everything develops.
“It was great for Nathaniel Ferris to mark his first start with a goal on Tuesday and Matthew Parker was as good as anyone on the pitch.
“But it takes a collective effort by the senior lads to give the younger players the best opportunity.
“We are not at the level we expect but I can see clear steps forward.”