Loughgall boss Dean Smith downplays high stakes in high-profile derby trip to Portadown
Loughgall head into the high-profile derby date at Portadown with manager Dean Smith playing down the high stakes connected to the clash between first and third.
Smith’s Villagers make the short trip to Shamrock Park trailing the Bluefin Sport Championship leaders by six points having played one game fewer to date.
However, Smith feels the greater gap is measured off the field and considers his Loughgall players “punching above our weight” to share the same rarified air as so many rivals with greater resources and reputations.
“If someone had said in August we would be in this position at this point of the season then I would have grabbed it with both hands,” said Smith. “We have had three defeats so far in a division with clubs like Portadown, Newry City, Ards and Ballinamallard.
“We have been punching above our weight so there is a reality check required at times, especially coming off the back of losing last weekend to Knockbreda.
“Certainly I consider my players to have plenty of credit in the bank to excuse a setback like last weekend and I can only be proud of everything put into the season so far.
“We get back 100 per cent from every player and that continued commitment will allow us to meet our own targets and develop towards our own goals.”
Loughgall head to Portadown aiming to improve a record of derby disappointments and frustrations across recent fixtures.
“Because of the hard work put in this season by this group I do think we face Portadown with the strongest squad of my time at Loughgall,” said Smith. “Whether that is enough over the course of a full season remains to be seen but I do think we are more than capable in a one-off game.
“Although we face Portadown off the back of what is a bad result, we bombarded Knockbreda in the second half and feel frustrated by some decisions from the officials.
“Therefore, although it was disappointing on Saturday, this league will produce plenty of twists and turns and we move forward bolstered by the second-half display.”