Portadown striker Lee Bonis may stand as the surprise package of this season’s Bluefin Sport Championship but manager Matthew Tipton considers it dangerous to simply dismiss the 20-year-old as raw.
A summer signing from Seagoe in the Mid-Ulster Intermediate League, Bonis has grabbed his opportunity at first-team football with the Ports by bagging five goals in as many appearances.
His energy and enthusiasm have secured Bonis a spot as a hometown favourite within the fanbase but Tipton is keen to highlight the hard work behind the heart as key to the striker’s Shamrock Park success.
“It would be disrespectful to just look at the work-rate put in by Lee and his background from Mid-Ulster football and consider him raw,” said Tipton. “I knew within the first minutes of watching him play for us that he had something.
“After one run I could see the natural ability and, to be honest, I’ve never had to spend one-on-one time with Lee since his arrival.
“Of course, he is not yet the finished product but instead of describing him as raw in a bad way, I consider it a freshness.
“You see that in how he goes about his business, he has no time for reputations or worrying about the opposition, instead he just goes out and turns bad balls into good balls and good balls into great balls.
“But he wouldn’t be in the team if it was just about running around, Lee has talent and is clearly loving playing for Portadown.
“When he made the decision to leave Portadown Youth as a teenager, it would have been easy to follow the same path of others and just drift away but he obviously kept his drive and focus and has great fitness levels, so when his opportunity came around he was ready to make the most of that return to the club.”
Bonis’ brace alongside a goal from substitute Callum Ferris left Portadown with a 3-1 victory over Queen’s on Saturday to put the club top of the Championship standings.
Ferris’ success off the bench arrived after Tipton had highlighted the need for patience at club level to aid his overall development following a rapid rise on the international scene with recent appearances for Northern Ireland under 19s and under 21s in quick succession.
“The players were disappointed to have conceded off the Queen’s penalty kick even, so you can see the belief and confidence in the team is growing but we are still only eight games into the league,” said Tipton. “I was delighted for Callum, not just his goal to make it 2-1 but his all-round play.
“We showed the patience to break Queen’s down and then the right approach to go and get the win from 1-1, now it is on to Dergview.”
Weekend fixtures are as follows across the Bluefin Sport Championship and Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League (all 3 o’clock kick-offs):
CHAMPIONSHIP: Ballinamallard United v Dundela, Ballyclare Comrades v Knockbreda, Dergview v Portadown, H&W Welders v PSNI, Loughgall v Ards, Queen’s University v Newry City AFC.
PIL: Annagh United v Limavady United, Armagh City v Bangor, Banbridge Town v Tobermore United, Dollingstown v Newington, Lisburn Distillery v Portstewart.