Portadown: Promotion licence clarity entering closing four Championship fixtures
Portadown stand one win away from securing a pre-match play-off position - but manager Matthew Tipton is demanding maximum points from the final four Bluefin Sport Championship fixtures.
Defeat on Saturday by 2-0 at Dundela left the latter sharing third spot in the standings with the Ports, with Carrick Rangers clear as runners-up to Larne.
The blow of that weekend setback was softened somewhat by confirmation this week from the Irish Football Association that Dundela are no longer under consideration for a Promotion Licence.
With the two highest-placed eligible top-six clubs going head-to-head in a single match to settle which side competes for the two-leg promotion play-off against the second-bottom Danske Bank Premiership side, Portadown now enter the run-in aware they must finish above Ballinamallard United and Harland and Wolff Welders.
Larne, Carrick Rangers, Portadown, Ballinamallard United, Harland and Wolff Welders and eighth-placed Ballyclare Comrades remain as Promotion Licence applicants.
Confirmation of the licensing decisions will be presented to clubs on April 25 but the Ports hold a nine-point advantage over Ballinamallard and sit 11 clear of the Welders.
As a result, bolstered by a superior goal difference, one victory would effectively cement Portadown’s place alongside Carrick in pursuit of promotion.
However, Tipton will send his Ports to champions Larne this weekend searching for an immediate return to winning ways.
“We cannot think about that security as it is important to enter any play-off situation with a winning momentum,” said Tipton. “I also think it is right for it to come down to the teams sitting second and third, so we will push as hard as possible to finish as high as possible.
“We will show Larne the respect they deserve as champions during the trophy presentation but I want my players to feel as sick as I will watching another team lift the title.
“Then they must use it as extra motivation as we can still finish the season with something to celebrate but only with improved performances.”