Belfast Telegraph

McFall aims blast at his flops as top six hopes suffer devastating blow

Glenavon 4-1 Portadown

By Stuart McKinley

Ronnie McFall held nothing back as he blasted his under-performing players following defeat in what could be his last mid-Ulster derby as Portadown manager.

The Shamrock Park boss also admitted that the 4-1 loss to Glenavon has killed off their hopes of making the top-six cut and that means their season now hinges on Irish Cup success, with a quarter-final tie at home to Lurgan Celtic on Saturday week.

Leading 2-0 at half time thanks to goals from Kevin Braniff and Eoin Bradley, Glenavon survived a temporary scare when Chris Casement pulled the Ports back into the game on 65 minutes.

McFall had already been forced to throw Martin Marron on for his first-team debut after David Miskelly had suffered a heavy fall, leaving him dazed, and the rookie goalkeeper's error led to Bradley restoring the two-goal lead.

Things got worse for the Ports when Robert Garrett was sent off two minutes later and Andrew Kilmartin piled on the agony when he got Glenavon's fourth deep in the lengthy injury-time period which came about after Miskelly's injury.

"I thought in the first half we were shocking," said McFall.

"At half time I told them to show a bit of pride, a bit of belief and get on the ball and play.

"We came out in the second half and started well. Chris Casement had a good chance just at the start that hit the post and once we scored and made it 2-1 we were right back in it - there's not doubt about that.

"Then Chris Ramsey and Casement messed up down the right-hand side - the first three goals all came down the right-hand side.

"When Garrett got sent off that was it over."

McFall is expected to bow out after 29 and a half years in charge when his contract expires at the end of the season and after one league win in their last nine games the Ports could now be facing their lowest league finish in 15 years.

The nine-point gap between them and Glentoran is now, according to McFall, too big to close in the five games that remain before the split. If they can hold on to seventh place that would open up a potential route to Europe via the new play-off system.

Dropping any further would see Portadown end up eighth for the first time since 2001.

"We'll not get into the top six now," said McFall.

"We're playing for seventh to give us another crack at getting into Europe and even that's not going to be easy."

The motivation therefore for all at Portadown is to make up for the disappointment of last season's Irish Cup final, when the Ports felt they were the victims of failings by match officials as they lost 1-0 to Glentoran, by lifting the trophy this time and sending McFall out on a high.

"It was always going to be all on the cup for us," said McFall.

"Everybody was psychologically damaged after the cup final last year. The supporters, the players, management, directors - all psychologically damaged and we needed to bring in players to give us a fresh impetus and we didn't do it."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph