Portadown manager Matthew Tipton has called for cool heads and clear focus over a week of football which could define the club’s Bluefin Sport Championship promotion prospects.
Back-to-back games against Carrick Rangers and Dundela serve up successive tests for third-place Portadown against the teams placed, respectively, above and below Tipton’s squad in the standings.
Victory tomorrow (Saturday) at Shamrock Park (kick-off 3pm) over Carrick would close the gap to a single point but anything other than victory presents an opportunity for Dundela to reduce the deficit of five on the Ports.
With just six games left in the Championship run-in towards the promotion play-offs, Tipton is aware of the high stakes but keen to keep his trust in what he views as a group of players primed to find the right form at this crucial stage.
“There is no point trying to lie about the game at Shamrock Park against Carrick but fans are allowed to get caught up in the situation and, hopefully, that will lead to a great atmosphere and backing for our players,” said Tipton.
“But our job is to work on a gameplan and have faith in those preparations for the next challenge.
“It is about looking on the match as an opportunity for three more points towards our goals.
“Of course we want to take second spot off Carrick and know defeat would hand them a big boost towards securing that position with so few games left.
“We’ve lost twice already this season to Carrick and cannot allow that to happen again so will be approaching the match in the usual positive way.
“Dundela sit close behind and we must pay full respect to Carrick this weekend then see how everything has developed after the final whistle and turn focus to next Saturday at that stage.
“Our performance levels have improved and it is about being in the right situation for what is a key part of the season.
“Since the split, our approach has been to focus only on the next game and put everything into that fixture, so that does not change.”
Tipton recently celebrated a year in the Ports dug-out after replacing current Carrick boss Niall Currie.
“When I joined I think we were sitting sixth, nine points off the target with seven games left and the players, many still at the club, went on a great run,” said Tipton.
“Those players here for that run of results can draw experience from that period.
“Overall, we should always aim to learn from the past and what went wrong and how to put it right.
“That is the same for last season’s run-in and the previous two defeats to Carrick this season,” added Tipton.