IRISH LEAGUE: Pat McGibbon prepared to win ugly as Portadown target Premiership survival

Pat McGibbon. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Pat McGibbon. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Pat McGibbon admits he may have to abandon his footballing philosophy and just drag Portadown over the line in this season’s Danske Bank Premiership.

The Ports remain wedged in a relegation dogfight following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Dungannon Swifts.

Portadown midfielder Michael Gault with Dungannons Andrew Mitchell

Portadown midfielder Michael Gault with Dungannons Andrew Mitchell

Andrew Mitchell’s double consigned McGibbon to his fifth defeat in six games since becoming caretaker manager.

Last week’s goalless stalemate against Ballinamallard United has been the only crumb of comfort for the interim boss as he looks to preserve the Shamrock Park club’s top-flight status.

Portadown remain ninth in the table – just five points off bottom club Warrenpoint Town with three games left this season.

All three of those crunch fixtures are away from home – against Carrick Rangers (Tuesday), Warrenpoint (April 23) and Ballymena United (April 30).

“My main concern is the group of players in the changing room,” McGibbon said.

“At the end of the day this is not my squad – I inherited them. I would take some of the squad if I was manager of the club, and some I wouldn’t want.

“A lot of these players do not have the right mind set, and that is difficult to take as a manager. I can only motivate players if they want to be motivated.

“It has been tough since I came in, and we wanted a couple of wins in the six games since I became caretaker manager.

“This is a big football club, and I have been part of it since a youngster, and also a senior player, and I want what’s best for the club.

“But we need some big results over the next couple of games, because Portadown deserves to stay in this league.

“We have three games left and the main thing is that we get over the line. It is tough at the bottom. We were well aware we would be in this mix. Our form hasn’t been good and we need to be getting results.

“In the short spell I have been caretaker boss, I know the five or six players who have my back. But I am not so sure of some others.

“We just need a scrappy win. We need the ball to come off someone’s backside and go in for us.

“Those players need a result, and it would make a massive difference at the bottom of the table.”

Mitchell broke the deadlock with a touch of fortune in the 12th minute on Saturday, the striker’s cross from the right edge of the box looping over Ports goalkeeper David Miskelly and into the net.

It was 2-0 in the 70th minute when Dougie Wilson robbed Michael Gault of possession before sending Mitchell clear, and after fending off the back-tracking Ports rearguard he dispatched a clinical strike past Miskelly.

The Ports found themselves back in the game five minutes later when Matthew Parker’s teasing cross was touched home by Nathanial Ferris.

Saturday’s win ensured Dungannon’s Premiership safety, and manager Rod McAree was delighted with the club’s rousing finish to the season.

“It was a case of trying to get the three points and then seeing if other results went our way, which they have. Then you realise you are safe in the Premiership,” he said.

“So I am delighted with that. From having eight points after our first 13 games, to securing our Premiership status again, is fantastic.

“It is credit to the squad of players we have.”

Reflecting on Mitchell’s contribution of 21 goals this season, McAree added: “He is a great lad and he enjoys being at the club.

“He is contracted for another year so I don’t see him going too far in the immediate future.”