Belfast Telegraph

Ronnie McFall: Portadown paid the price for poor attitude

By Gareth McCullough

At the start of the weekend, Portadown were sitting pretty at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership standings - two points clear of Linfield, three ahead of champions Cliftonville and with a match they were expected to win against a side six points adrift at the foot of the table.

How things changed in less than 24 hours.

Defeat at Warrenpoint for Ronnie McFall's men, coupled with comfortable wins for the chasing duo in Blue and Red against Ballinamallard and Institute respectively, see the Shamrock Park side slip into third by virtue of goal difference, level with Tommy Breslin's champions and one behind Warren Feeney's new table toppers.

It was hardly the best way for McFall's side to mark their manager's 28th anniversary as Ports boss, as the man himself admitted they were second best all over the park to a hungry 'Point side in desperate need of a win.

Ciaran O'Connor struck twice in the first half to give the hosts a fully deserved 2-0 lead at the break and, although Garry Breen halved the deficit after the interval, Portadown never really looked like getting anything out of the game and McFall didn't mince his words post-match.

"We were shocking all over the pitch, from one to 11 and I couldn't pick a player [who played well]. Warrenpoint fully merited their win and we can have no complaints in that respect," he raged.

"I think the last three or four times we've played them, we've found ourselves 2-0 down in the first half of each of those games and we've had to fight back. No matter how much I preached that to the players, it obviously didn't get through to them.

"If the players needed a kick up the backside, then they got it tonight, that's for sure. Warrenpoint are bottom of the league and obviously they are fighting for their lives and you would have thought that with the quality we have that we would have come out on top. But their attitude was better than ours and we didn't deserve anything out of it."

Things were much brighter in the home dressing room as Barry Gray saw his side close the gap to three points on Dungannon after Darren Murphy's men were edged out 3-2 at home to Glentoran on Saturday.

"It's nice for them to have a night where they can enjoy narrowing the gap off the back of a good performance. It's only one win and only three points but at this point, it's a crucial time for us," Gray said.

"We're going in to a very important Christmas period where we have, on paper if you like, games that we could be taking points out of. It's all about confidence levels and lifting players out of where they are and giving them that extra spring in their step. A result like this will definitely do that."

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