Belfast Telegraph

Portadown boss Ronnie McFall not ready to throw in towel after Ballinamallard defeat

Portadown 0-3 Ballinamallard United

By Stuart McKinley

In almost 29 years as Portadown manager, Ronnie McFall has weathered many a storm - and he is determined to do so once again.

A section of the Shamrock Park support want the long-serving boss to go. They told him as much as he headed for the tunnel after Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Ballinamallard United.

A quick-fire double from the Mallards early in the second half, with Liam Martin - who later went on to add the third - and Ryan Campbell both heading home within two minutes of each other, knocked the stuffing out of the Ports.

It hasn't done the same to McFall, whose declaration afterwards of: "I've a contract to the end of the season", is a clear signal of his intent to fight his way through this particular difficult spell.

There is no indication that the board are about to take action either.

The sacking culture that is so prevalent in English football doesn't permeate across the Irish Sea.

Eddie Patterson's dismissal by Glentoran last weekend made him the first manager who hasn't left of his own accord since a crazy day in December 2011 that saw three managers go at once, Roy Walker and Dixie Robinson quit their jobs at Ballymena United and Dungannon Swifts, while Stephen Small was sacked by Carrick Rangers.

Irish League fans should be glad that their chairmen remain realistic when it comes to expectations and that they know whatever problems exist don't begin and end with getting rid of the manager.

In Mark McAllister, Darren Murray and Gary Twigg, McFall has - arguably at least - the best attacking options in the Danske Bank Premiership.

It's a forward line that is the envy of the league.

The problem is that none of them are currently fit.

McFall has already chalked up one success in getting Murray to withdraw a transfer request, but neither he or McAllister can score goals from the stand - where they spent Saturday afternoon.

Twigg, like he did for a large part of last season, is currently playing through injury, as is his strike partner on Saturday, Peter McMahon.

The ability is there, fitness and confidence isn't. If they can be restored it will be a very different Portadown team on the pitch.

After a first half in which both teams tried to create openings by playing football, the first goal was always going to have a telling impact - which McFall knew.

"Confidence is fragile and the last things we needed was to go behind," he said.

"That's what happens when you are on a bad run, which we are at the minute.

"Confidence is down, players aren't looking to get on the ball the way they should be

"We certainly miss the boys that are out - Darren Murray and Mark McAllister. Both are hamstring injuries and we don't know how long they will be out.

"Gary Twigg played, but he wasn't 100%. He's carrying his hamstring as well and Peter McMahon has a groin strain.

"That's what we're down to.

"We ended up with three kids on - that's the situation that we are in."

In contrast to the Ports, Ballinamallard's confidence is sky high after their recent run.

The win at Shamrock Park - their first at the venue since being promoted to the Premiership - came hot on the heels after successes at Glentoran and Linfield, while they were only denied a victory over Crusaders by a late equaliser.

And while McFall's injury problems mount up, Whitey Anderson is benefiting from having his full squad available.

"We've had a number of players back who were missing a while ago, we've got ourselves playing a certain way and it's working for us," he said.

"It's not often that we score three goals in a game. That's always been our biggest failing, let's be honest about it.

"We got them this time and a clean sheet.

"I have a decent squad of players and I always felt that results would improve. I felt it has shown this last six weeks.

"We got a good result at Ballymena and it's followed on since then."

PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Casement, Breen, O'Hara, Redman, Richardson, Garrett, Gault, Mackle (Stewart, 19 mins, [Soares, 69 mins]), McMahon (Ramsey, 87 mins), Twigg. Unused subs: Brennan, Oman.

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: Rouse, McMenamin, McLaughlin, Friars, McCartney, Martin, Lecky (Currie, 87 mins), Lafferty, McCrudden (Kolbusek, 70 mins), Feeney (Courtney, 89 mins), Campbell. Unused subs: McCusker, Crilly

Man of the match: Johnny Lafferty

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Mervyn Smyth (Belfast)

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