Defensive delight the backbone to promising Championship run by Portadown

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton on show at the weekend in the Super 8s tournament organised by Laurelvale Cricket Club. Looking on for the hosts is Wesley Best. Pic courtesy of Portadown FC.
Portadown manager Matthew Tipton on show at the weekend in the Super 8s tournament organised by Laurelvale Cricket Club. Looking on for the hosts is Wesley Best. Pic courtesy of Portadown FC.
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Portadown’s league season may sit just seven games into the Championship promotion push but the club can already lay claim to something of a significant landmark.

Paddy McNally and Lee Bonis found the net on Saturday in the 2-0 home success over Dundela that celebrated a fifth win to place Matthew Tipton’s panel second in the standings.

Within the encouraging start came a fifth clean sheet of the league schedule, with Tipton pointing to the fact that last season’s full Championship programme only featured four blanks as a clear sign of overall progress.

“We spent so much of last season waiting for things to click based on the ability within the squad and we never found that consistency,” said Tipton. “But this season we came into the league campaign off a pre-season in which everyone felt confident and had a much better grasp of our goals.

“That is reflected in the promising start and to move past our tally of clean sheets for the whole of last season at this point shows the progress.

“We also now have four wins on the spin in the league, so there are lots of positives and we just know it is about continuing the work to try and continue that momentum.

“In any game you can have spells under pressure and part of our pre-season centred on surrendering possession for periods to the opposition as an exercise in working on that side of play.

“Those details have really allowed us to kick off the season in the right way and there is confidence across the board at the minute, with the shape really good.

“We are creating chances in games off that strong foundation but if the opposition do have a spell on top with the ball we look solid.

“Against Dundela we were not brilliant on the ball but restricted Dundela’s chances on our goal and that game management is crucial.”

The Ports play host to Queen’s at Shamrock Park on Saturday aiming to extend the strong league start.

“Unfortunately we have had it confirmed that Chris Lavery is suffering from medial ligament damage and the initial diagnosis is a month out,” said Tipton. “That is a blow to the player and club.

“Liam McKenna is facing a suspension following his red card in the midweek loss to Annagh United.

“The Mid-Ulster Cup defeat came with positives such as giving a chance for first-team experience to younger players like Tommy Smyth and Matt Creighton.

“Martin Bradley got minutes and Brendan Glackin got a goal.

“But Brendan and Gary Millar picked up knocks so we must take a late look before Saturday.”

The Portadown squad v Annagh United: Stewart, Creighton, McCallum, Bradley, McKenna, Glackin, Millar, Teelan, Robinson, Marsden, Aluizio. Subs: Edwards, Duke, Smyth, McVeigh, Ginesi.

The Portadown squad v Dundela: Edwards, Hall, Crane, Finnegan, Salley, McGrandles, Tipton, Wilson, Carmichael, McNally, Bonis. Subs: McCallum, Lavery, Carmichael, McKenna, Duke, Millar.