Belfast Telegraph

Gault refuses to give up on title glory with Ports

By Stuart McKinley

Michael Gault is ready to shake up the Premiership title race by extending Portadown's winning run well beyond their back-to-back victories over Linfield.

And by doing so Gault hopes that the Shamrock Park men can apply maximum pressure on Crusaders at the top of the table.

The Ports may have fallen off the pace, as they now sit 10 points behind the Crues with eight games remaining, but after beating the Blues in the league a fortnight ago, before knocking them out of the Irish Cup last weekend, there is renewed confidence in Ronnie McFall's team - especially with an Irish Cup semi-final against Ballymena United to look forward to.

Add in the return of momentum and some self belief into the mix and a squad that has no lack of talent could yet be one to watch.

And although that semi-final is just two weeks away, Gault and his team mates won't be focusing on anything other than this afternoon's home clash with Glentoran, who they could yet meet in the Cup showpiece.

"You never know. We would obviously love to be in Crusaders' position, but we just need to keep plugging away and see what happens," said Gault.

"Crusaders are obviously in the driving seat, but you just never know.

"We've a semi-final to look forward to, but we won't be taking our eye off the ball in the league.

"Our next three games are winnable games against teams who are below us so we'll be looking to take nine points out of nine, which will take us into the split and then we'll see what the situation is."

"We have Glentoran next, which is an important game and I still wouldn't rule Linfield out of the league."

The Ports had been top of the table 10 games ago, after a thrilling 3-2 win over Crusaders.

Since then, however, they have only won three times, while the Crues have responded by going on a blistering run that has seen them take 28 points of the 30 on offer.

Pots boss Ronnie McFall is of the same mind as Gault, that the Irish Cup will remain on the back burner and he won't give up on the title until someone else claims it as theirs.

"Being realistic we're 10 points adrift with eight matches to go so it's a big ask, but we still have to play Crusaders and Linfield and in football anything can happen, so you never know," said McFall.

"We won't focus on the semi-final or change the team or anything like that. We'll focus on getting three points against Glentoran, that's what we've got to do and try to make sure we at least finish third.

"They were big wins for us against Linfield. We've been missing key players and we went to Windsor Park with no strikers

"With the size of the squad that we have it's always going to be difficult in those circumstances."

e SEAN Ward has signed a contract extension at Linfield. The 31-year-old's deal will take him through until the summer of 2017.

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