Portadown chief Ronnie McFall insists it’s vital for his team to get back on track if European football is to be achieve next season.
The Ports’ hopes of claiming third spot in the Premiership table took a jolt last weekend with Linfield’s win at Shamrock Park.
McFall’s boys on Saturday travel to Clandeboye Park to meet basement boys Ards, knowing it’s a must-win fixture as Crusaders are only one point behind.
“Ards are battling for every point in a bid to avoid the drop,” said McFall.
“They had a great win over Warrenpoint Town last weekend - a result that cut the gap at the bottom to only five points.
“There is no doubt they’ll want to build on that and get a bit of momentum going before the league splits.
“We need the points for a different reason - we want to finish third, which would guarantee European football next season.
“It looks like it’s between ourselves and Crusaders, although we have played one game more.
“It’s important we take three points from this game.”
Ards manager Niall Currie, buoyed by that result against fellow strugglers Warrenpoint, is confident of avoiding the drop.
“We have given ourselves a fighting chance,” he said.
“But we need to kick on where we left off at Warrenpoint.
“There is now a different dynamic in the changing room, helped by the new guys be brought in.
“Our form has been good, but we must keep it going. Portadown will be another difficult game.”
Recent P’ship form (latest on left): Ards W-L-W-L-D; Portadown L-W-L-W-W
Last 4 league meetings: Ards 3 Portadown 1, Portadown 2 Ards 0, Ards 1 Portadown 2, Portadown 3 Ards 2.
Prediction: Ards 2 Portadown 3