However, goals after the break on Saturday over Coleraine by Adam Salley and Harry Anderson left the Ports celebrating a third successive Shamrock Park success and extended the league unbeaten run to four fixtures.
As a result, Paul Doolin can point to positives with one pre-split test still on the cards and his Portadown side now only a single point behind Carrick in the fight to rise up the rankings.
“I think the main thing is we’re scoring some goals but we’re not conceding goals,” said Doolin following the 2-0 victory over Coleraine. “The wind was horrendous in the first half but we defended it and saw it out before half-time.
“In the second half I thought we were outstanding.
“As a new coach coming in trying to get ideas across, there’s only place to do it and that’s on the training pitch.
“You cannot just go out and say players will know what they’re doing, even experienced players.
“They’ve got to understand what’s needed - from you and as a team.
“From day one, we were looking to be a team in a good shape.
“If the game is 0-0 or even if leading 2-0, you’ve still got to do the right things - you play from your position, you’ve a good structure and shape about the team.
“You can see now, even players coming on are all doing the right job and understand what we’re looking for.
“It’s funny when you see the two goals as we did something in training during the week about counter-attacking.
“The second goal was a great goal, a great move...Adam’s was a great goal too.
“It’s clear that players are giving what they have for the team.
“It’s great we have got to where we are but, again, we’ve still games to go.
“I didn’t have a target, the minute it goes then you’re in trouble.
“The only target was to have a squad of players that understood what we’re looking for and they have.
“They deserve to have confidence and belief - but not be cocky or arrogant.”
Within Doolin’s praise for collective progress was the opportunity to highlight individual effort.
“Adam Salley is looking like a striker - and a good one at that,” said Doolin. “We didn’t want to say an awful lot but we’ve had a few injuries.
“Michael Ruddy is a war horse, playing from minute one (with a groin injury), Paddy McNally has been struggling all week (with illness).
“Billy Stedman was struggling, Stephen Teggart too.
“Adam McCallum has been a bit unfortunate (with minutes) but you want players fighting each other for positions.
“Josh Doherty’s now looking like a fella you could say has been over at Watford.”