Ports boss backing his forwards to find form

Ronnie McFall was Portadown manager for 29 years
Ronnie McFall was Portadown manager for 29 years

Manager Ronnie McFall is backing his goal-shy strikers to get back on track in front of the net this weekend and fire Portadown into the Irish Cup semi-finals.

Lurgan Celtic, flying high in Championship One, will arrive at Shamrock Park aiming to produce a quarter-final shock.

The Ports play host to the derby rivals in search of a return to winning ways following dropped league points in the aftermath of the sixth-round cup success over Coleraine.

Gary Twigg remains the club’s most natural finisher but an injury concern. If late fitness tests fail to clear Twigg, McFall must keep his faith in teenager Marcio Soares and Mark McAllister.

Soares was presented with a number of scoring opportunities without success during defeat to Ballinamallard United and McAllister left the pitch in Saturday’s scoreless draw against Carrick Rangers having failed to convert from the penalty spot.

“Both players have proven in the past capable of making a difference in games,” said McFall. “You always want a player of the calibre of Gary in the side but he didn’t train on Tuesday so it is too early to say.

“One chance can settle a cup game so it is up to every player, not just the strikers, to prepare and focus in the right way.

“We cannot afford to underestimate Lurgan Celtic and I have personally watched them, plus had others scout the side in advance.

“On Saturday it will come down to the players and we can take confidence from the number of chances created in recent games.

“We dominated against Carrick even with 10 men and had plenty of chances in the Ballinamallard match.”

The previous round’s defeat of Coleraine and a league victory over Linfield will serve as blueprint performances for the Ports entering the high-stakes weekend test.

“We have done enough in recent games to get more out of those fixtures but must repeat the levels from Coleraine and Linfield,” said McFall. “The players must show the right desire to win.

“Last year’s final defeat and the circumstances around it will continue to provide extra motivation.”

Kick-off will be 3 o’clock.