Belfast Telegraph

Title triumph with Portadown would top Linfield successes for Michael Gault

Title triumph would top Linfield successes for Gault

By Stuart McKinley

Michael Gault will step out at Windsor Park once again tomorrow afternoon determined to take a step towards his best ever league title triumph.

It's a step he has taken hundreds of times, but on this occasion it will be different. A lot different.

Six months after his Linfield career came to an end after 12 trophy-laden years Gault returns to the south-Belfast venue for the first time.

All that has changed, however, is the colour of the kit that he wears.

The hunger, desire and determination to be successful has never wavered since signing for Portadown.

In fact, if anything his will to win has grown stronger since Ronnie McFall snapped him up in the summer.

So much so that Gault believes that ending the Shamrock Park club's 13-year wait for a fifth Irish League title would top his achievements with Linfield.

"It's a long time since Portadown won the league, particularly for the size of the club," said Gault.

"I've won it seven times at Linfield and when I signed for Portadown it was because I believed that we would challenge this season.

"We're in a good position at the minute.

"It would be special to me and mean a lot if we could win the league. I would say that it might even be the best one ever."

Tomorrow's clash at Windsor is set to be a real blockbuster.

The Blues are in a familiar position at the top of the table, but it was only last weekend that they knocked the Ports off the summit.

Things are so tight at the top that you could throw a handkerchief, let alone a blanket, over the top three, with Cliftonville - who like the Ports are just a point behind the Blues - ready to pounce if the battle at Windsor ends in a draw.

Crusaders are also involved in a four-way tussle for the title and Glentoran can't be ruled out.

They have collected 16 points in their last eight games and if that run keeps going over the Christmas period - and they get the three points back from the controversial game against Glenavon when Gary Hamilton scored twice despite being red carded the previous weekend, they could be in the running too.

Other clubs have played down their title hopes, but that will never be Gault's style.

He is used to being judged at the end of the season, when success or failure comes down to whether or not you've lifted the Gibson Cup.

"You have to be hungry and want to win things and I'm no different now to when I was at Linfield," said Gault.

"I have been there and done it before. I can't speak for other people, but for me that only drives me on to want more success.

"It's so close at the minute and we have to stay in the pack. If one of the teams keeps on winning they could pull away. It's important that we don't lose two or three in a row and lose ground.

"If Cliftonville and Linfield do pull away it could make things very difficult for us - we might catch one of them, but catching both of them is a big ask."

Gault knows that it takes more than just performances on the pitch to win a league title.

He is confident, however, that the Ports have the ingredients in their squad to be in the mix right to the end.

"I knew the individual talent that Portadown had from playing against them, I didn't know the spirit they had in the dressing room," he said.

"That's one of the most important things you need if you're going to be successful and this squad has it.

One of the other key elements is goals - and there's no doubt, in Mark McAllister, Darren Murray and Gary Twigg, that Portadown have strikers capable of firing the team to the title.

"They are three great strikers and it's great to have that quality in the team. I wouldn't like to be in Ronnie's position when it comes to picking two on a Saturday.

"He did try to play all three earlier in the season and it just didn't work.

"I still think we could play with the three of them in the team because that day at Ballymena we were all bad.

"Ronnie prefers to play 4-4-2 and it's been successful this season, so I suppose he's right to stick with it. It's just great to have three players in the squad who we know are all capable of scoring goals."

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