Matthew Tipton is calling for continued progress from his Portadown players following a positive start last Friday to life as Shamrock Park manager.
Tipton’s first game in charge of the Ports featured an encouraging 1-1 draw with Bluefin Sport Championship league leaders Institute.
Institute took the lead but Portadown regrouped to produce a performance that attracted praise from visiting manager Paddy McLaughlin alongside home fan support.
Now attention turns to the second of four successive home games when Loughgall make the derby journey from village to town tonight.
Portadown hold a three-point lead over Loughgall - with Ballyclare Comrades seven clear of Tipton’s side in the final promotion play-off spot entering the closing six games.
Tipton’s remit as a replacement for Niall Currie may have centred on long-term progress but he admits encouragement at the early signs on show against Institute and continued development in preparation for the final fixtures.
“You hope to see a lift in the first game under a new manager but what we must avoid is a slump after any initial bounce,” said Tipton. “We started out under pressure from an Institute side who came to Shamrock Park as the league leaders.
“But it was pleasing to see how the players gradually started to adapt and grow in confidence.
“As the match went on we continued to play it out and some of the movement across the attack was really pleasing.
“We had an encouraging start but need to carry that forward over the rest of the games.
“The base level was positive last week so now it is about taking it on again another step and another step.
“I am not saying everything obviously just clicked and we are playing brilliant football but it was a series of small steps in the right direction.
“Hopefully the fans appreciated the work-rate and effort from the players.
“We asked the players to adapt to a different system as well as a different way of playing so, overall, we have to be pleased.
“I cannot talk about the past before I arrived but obviously Portadown face Loughgall with a good run of previous results.
“However, anyone who considers that as a reason to take anything for granted only has to look at Loughgall reaching the Irish Cup semi-finals by beating two Premiership sides in Ards and Glenavon.
“I am sure that will not be the case from the players and we will show Loughgall respect but, as a new manager, it is also about looking in-house and at our progress and what we want to achieve.”