Portadown surged to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership on Saturday – not that it changes anything for determined boss Ronnie McFall.
Peter McMahon’s 85th-minute winner sealed a gutsy 2-1 victory against Glentoran.
The Glens had threatened to claim some reward from Shamrock Park when Marcus Kane broke the deadlock in the 57th minute.
But in the face of adversity, Portadown responded with two goals to continue their impressive start to the season.
Gary Twigg bagged his 10th Premiership goal of the campaign when he headed home Ryan McStay’s corner on 70 minutes.
And with time running out summer signing McMahon pounced on Elliott Morris’ error to tap home from close range.
“There are no easy matches in this league. If you look at the results today it proves that. All we can do is focus on ourselves,” said Ports boss McFall.
“Their goal was disappointing to lose. I think their player went into a tackle and it flew into the net.
“But we showed a lot of character to come back. We upped the tempo and fully deserved the three points.”
McFall had special praise for winger McMahon, whose goal made it five wins from nine opening fixtures.
“I am pleased for Peter getting the winning goal,” he added.
“He was out of football for a while but we signed him because we saw something.
“He has come from the League of Ireland and it takes time to adjust, but he is getting his match legs now and he is a big asset for us.
“Getting on the scoresheet is a bonus.”
Despite hitting the Premiership summit, McFall is refusing to get carried away with the Ports’ early form.
“We are top of the table but we know it is early days. We are keeping our feet firmly on the ground and there is a long way to go,” he insisted.
“We will take it one game at a time and give everyone the respect they deserve.
“We have had a good start. There is a different hunger and desire about us. We have always had the quality but the hunger is there.
“We are also a lot fitter. We didn’t have Europe this summer so we had a really hard pre-season, and that has been one of the major factors.
“There is great spirit within the whole club, and today highlights that.”
Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson vented his frustration after coming away empty handed.
The visitors had a plausible penalty appeal turned down in the first half when Mark Miskimmin tumbled inside the box under pressure from Chris Casement.
Calum Birney was also shown a red card in stoppage time for a rash challenge on McStay.
“We are very disappointed, particularly having a good penalty shout turned down. It was clear as day,” Patterson said.
“Also Emmett Friars committed a similar foul to Calum but only got a yellow, while our player gets sent off.
“At the end of the day all you ask for is consistency, and they were black and white decisions today that weren’t given.
“I have no arguments with Calum’s sending off, but Emmett Friars should have been sent off too. The rules are there.
“We should have taken something from the game, but I have nothing but praise for the boys.
“We can take a lot of positives from the performance.”
Meanwhile, Patterson is still hoping to sign striker Andy Smith.
Smith – who helped the east Belfast club lift the title in 2003 – has been training with the Glens and was at Shamrock Park on Saturday.
“Andy wants to sign, but it depends what kind of agreement can be made,” Patterson said. “We are at the top of our budget, but Andy has intimated he would sign for a goal bonus. Hopefully something cxan be worked out.
“It is now out of my hands.”