Options the name of the game for Ports

Peter McMahon celebrates with Garry Breen after breaking the deadlock against Glentoran. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Peter McMahon celebrates with Garry Breen after breaking the deadlock against Glentoran. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Portadown manager Ronnie McFall has been talking tactics in praise of his squad’s versatility following a three-game unbeaten run since the switch to 4-3-3.

A system change forced by Portadown’s striker shortage before the league trip to Windsor Park left McFall and his coaching team turning to the tactics board for a solution.

Peter McMahon led the line as a solo striker in Belfast as Portadown secured a first league win away to Linfield since 2002 thanks to Sean Mackle’s last-gasp strike.

Gary Twigg returned to the starting line for the following fixture and grabbed two goals in the Ports’ Irish Cup quarter-final triumph against Linfield, with McMahon and Mackle playing key supporting roles.

McMahon put Portadown into the lead on Saturday during a 1-1 draw with Glentoran in difficult weather conditions.

Darren Murray will return from a six-game suspension after tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) home game with Dungannon Swifts. Another Ports striker, Mark McAllister, is working back to fitness after hamstring trouble.

Twigg, Murray and McAllister have split minutes for the majority of this season in a frontline partnership but McFall feels the boost to his attacking options will only enhance the flexibility entering key games in the Danke Bank Premiership and next weekend’s Irish Cup semi-final.

“We have versatile players who allow us to change systems,” said McFall. “It always comes down to the players, they dictate the system.

“We did not have any strikers, then just one and now Darren and Mark are coming back into the squad.

“In recent weeks we have used a 4-3-3 formation, with people like Sean Mackle and Peter McMahon asked to come in and support the striker.

“It suits both players but Mark and Darren are also versatile and the midfield of Michael Gault, Robert Garrett and Tim Mouncey offers a solid foundation.

“It was difficult against Glentoran due to the strong winds but we were good value for the draw.

“We cannot afford to think beyond Saturday to next weekend’s Irish Cup semi-final as Dungannon always give us a difficult game.”

Kick-off will be 3 o’clock.