Ports’ January blues

Ronnie McFall heading for the changing rooms on Saturday. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Ronnie McFall heading for the changing rooms on Saturday. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

PORTADOWN manager Ronnie McFall is preparing for January frustration in his bid to sign a midfield general.

McFall (pictured) has been vocal in his desire to add a commanding presence to the heart of the team but now accepts a lack of quality options may force him to delay making a move until the summer market.

Saturday’s dismal defeat at home to the league leaders, Cliftonville, emphasised the need to strengthen such a key area. And McFall - in the aftermath of that 3-1 loss - has issued a challenge to his current squad to prove they can recover from both the performance and any transfer set-backs.

“The bottom line is we still have enough good players on the books to avoid a display so lacking in quality and fight,” said McFall. “I am not working on anything specifically at present in terms of signings as, to be honest, the standard we need is just not available in this current market.

“We will never add to the squad just to be active and any signings must always improve on what we already have available.

“If it is a case of having to wait until the end of the season for the right option then I am prepared to do that, if required.

“However, that should not take away from what we have at present and I expect a reaction against Ballinamallard United.

“We played as if it was a non-contact sport.

“A commanding and experienced midfielder is a transfer target to help in that area but there is no excuse for not getting stuck in.

“Aaron Burns has come in as an option in the centre or out wide and is certainly a very good player.

“However, we remain short of numbers and options in midfield.

“Not every player’s game is about winning tackles, of course, but there is no reason why you cannot work hard to close down your man or at least press the opposition.

“A Portadown side should never be bullied like we were last weekend.”

Despite the frank assessment, McFall also highlighted how key moments failed to fall in Portadown’s favour.

“You cannot ignore the fact that a penalty shout went against us at 1-0 down,” he said. “I have since seen the television footage and, to me, there was clear movement of the arm to block Kevin Braniff’s header.

“A goal at that point would have changed the game and then, in the second half, Sean Mackle came on and used his ability to make good runs from midfield to make it 2-1.

“That was another positive period for us before a mistake left Cliftonville 3-1 up for game over.

“Gary Twigg has enjoyed a great start at Portadown but the bottom line is he thrives on service and needs those balls to come into the box to score goals.

“Everything can come from midfield as you protect the defence and build attacks from that area so that is why we consider the right player in that position a priority.

“Despite having numbers at training this week disrupted by the bad weather, we want to get back on track against Ballinamallard United.”

Kick-off tonight (Friday) will be 7.45.