Portadown striker Kevin Braniff admits his colleagues got a reminder of what it takes to unhinge Linfield’s grip on the Danske Bank Premiership title following their weekend draw with pundits’ relegation candidates Donegal Celtic.
With time ebbing away, it took a 91st minute leveller from defender Gary Breen to stop Celtic celebrating a most unlikely win.
The Wee hoops had taken a 57th minute lead when Mark Miskimmin slipped the ball under Ports ‘keeper David Miskelly.
Braniff, who struck the Celtic woodwork before Breen spared their blushes, and saw team-mate Chris Casement rattle the crossbar with a free-kick, said: “If you want to win the league you have to beat teams like Donegal Celtic, so it was a very frustrating day for us.
“We are lucky enough to have come away with a point because it looked like we were never going to score.”
He added: “It wasn’t a good performance from us but we did create a lot of chances.
“When you are up against Donegal Celtic you have to dig deep and I’m not sure we did that throughout the game.
“We do believe we are serious title contenders this season. Linfield have had a poor start to the season but that means nothing. It’s the same every season, it’s Linfield’s title and up to the rest to nick it off them.
“So we know we have to improve and keep battling away. You need to be consistently picking up points in this league so we know what is expected of us.”
Braniff believes that since the defection of Matthew Tipton to Linfield, Portadown still need additional firepower.
“We need to find someone who is going to score goals on a regular basis,” he added.
“Tippy (Tipton) was a big loss for us. Hopefully I can get among the goals more often.
“It is up to everyone to chip in with goals and share the responsibility around the team.
“We can’t be relying on one or two people to find the net, so that is a challenge laid down for everyone.”
Celtic boss Stephen Small admitted he was pleased to claim a share of the spoils on the Suffolk Road.
“A draw would have been a satisfying result had we been handed that before the game,” he said.
“Had we won, I would not have been under any illusion that we were the better team.
“We have certainly got better since losing to Glentoran, and the players have taken on responsibility without needing to be reminded.”
Next up for Celtic is a trip to champions Linfield on Friday night – the Blues have yet to win in their two league outings.
“It’s time to focus on Friday, Linfield and Windsor Park, where we have rarely done ourselves justice. We will not go to Linfield to be lambs to the slaughter but at the same time we also have to realise that a Linfield team not firing on all cylinders will soon ignite,” Small added.