Energy and endeavour key to Portadown progress plans

In a search for gains from the first three games of a second successive Premiership campaign by Portadown beyond the return of a single point, the devil is in the detail for manager Matthew Tipton.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 6:11 pm

Following a thrilling derby draw to kick off the season, the Ports have now lost back-to-back games.

However, analysis of those defeats to Crusaders and Larne by Tipton has offered cause for hope that his young squad is learning lessons of life in the top flight.

“When we had a go we looked like a good team,” said Tipton in the aftermath of Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Larne in which the Ports cut the gap twice with goals at 2-0 and 3-1 thanks to increased energy and endeavour. “We stood off Larne too much in the first half.

Ruairi Croskery running back with the ball to restart Saturday’s play after cutting the gap to 2-1 for Portadown in defeat to Larne. Pic by Pacemaker.

“At half-time we had a chat about what we wanted and how we wanted to play.

“But it wasn’t about mad tactics - more run around, put a tackle in, press them and condense the pitch.

“I’m not going to stand here and say we didn’t kick it in the second half, we absolutely launched it on top of them.

“But I wanted us to get it in the final third and then we could go and play.

“I felt that was the best chance of success today, we talked about it during the week.

“Larne are very good at sucking you in and making you think you can play so you go to do it then realise you can’t as they’ve cut off the lane.

“So bypass that and we look 100 times better - we’re fit, energetic and can get around the pitch, I know they can do it again and again.

“Last season it took us to Christmas to understand how to play in this league.

“If we play like that second half then we become a tough side to play against, if we do the right things then play.

“We’re not a top-three side to have the ball, walk through a game and dictate the play that way...but we can on our terms with the intense football of that second half.

“It’s not just pump it up and hope, there’s technical work that goes into it but we need to back it up.

“Now the players coming off today, thanks to that spark, know what’s required and not to be passive.”

However, Tipton offered a warning sign over errors which left the Ports fighting back from a 2-0 half-time deficit.

“The first two goals we gave away were criminal,” he said. “The first came off a set-piece where two guys didn’t listen to the instructions.

“We all work on set-pieces and Larne, as full-time, have even more time on the training ground so you have to be tuned in.

“For the second, we don’t track back or go with enough urgency and he could have taken three or four touches.

“We’ve one point from three games, which is not good enough and we cannot throw points away, certainly not at home.

“But we were better today (defensively) than midweek from open play...so learn from it.”

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