The small margins that make the difference in life at the top table have led to some big headaches for Newry City AFC manager Darren Mullen.
His first taste of management in the Danske Bank Premiership will provide another club landmark tonight when Newry tackle Cliftonville in front of the Sky Sports television cameras.
However, Mullen has little time to reflect on the past progress enjoyed by the former Mid-Ulster Football League club and instead has his focus centred on senior survival and an upturn in form.
City tackle the Reds looking up as the division’s basement side following five consecutive league defeats.
“It is great for the club to have a boost in profile by appearing on Sky Sports but, internally, our concern has to be the need to start picking up points,” said Mullen. “Our last win came against Cliftonville but it has been a long time (since September).
“I know this squad is still good enough but we have not been taking our chances despite playing well.
“We must produce at this level for 90 minutes not 30 and want that combination of building on a solid defence alongside positive attacking play.”
Victory would push Cliftonville to within one point of the top three.
“We must look on it as an opportunity to gain ground given Saturday’s favourable results,” said Reds boss Barry Gray. “It is a chance to put us seriously in the mix but must be aware of a Newry side that managed to take maximum points off us already this season.”
Cliftonville enter the match following speculation over transfer interest from Shamrock Rovers in Joe Gormley, the league’s top scorer.
“If it was a case of talking about every time a club showed an interest in Joe then that would be all we would do,” said Gray. “We want Joe’s focus on the Newry match, he is under contract and a massive part of our plans to move Cliftonville forward.”