Ronnie McFall says there is no added pressure on Kevin Braniff’s shoulders to sparkle this season following the departure of Matthew Tipton.
Tipton and Northern Ireland international Braniff formed a lethal partnership last season but the Welshman’s decision to join Linfield has left the Mid-Ulster men relying on more magic from his old comrade.
But the former Millwall ace blew away any doubts when he produced an inspired performance in the opening game as Lisburn Distillery were swept aside 4-2. McFall maintains that Braniff is “a class act”, with or without goal-getter Tipton, and he will be hoping for more fireworks from his star man against Coleraine at Shamrock Park this evening (8pm).
“I know Matthew has left but I never looked at it from the point of view there would now be more pressure on Kevin to perform,” said the Ports boss.
“Matthew has moved on to Linfield and we wish him all the best. Players leaving clubs happens in football and you just have to adapt and get on with it. I have a good squad and don’t need to add to it before the transfer window shuts as Tim Mouncey and Matthew Paget should be back from injury within the next two months to keep us on the right path.
“But as far as Kevin (Braniff) is concerned, he did well in England and has won international caps so his quality is there for all to see and that won’t change.
“The onus is on the team to perform well as a unit and I’ve brought some good players to the club who can help us achieve our objectives.” The Ports will need to be at their best to beat back the rampant Bannsiders.
Oran Kearney’s men saw off Crusaders on the opening day, before securing a precious point at Windsor.
McFall, who watched his side snatch a draw at Donegal Celtic in their second outing, courtesy of Gary Breen's injury-time goal, knows the challenge is a formidable one.
“Coleraine finished in the top six last season and just missed out on European qualification so they’re a top side,” added McFall. “The last time we played them we lost 4-1 so we know it will be a difficult game.
“But it’s still very early days in the league campaign and things don’t really settle down until 10 matches in.
“Linfield haven’t come flying out of the blocks but they will get into their stride with the quality they have.
“Everyone is finding their feet and we might get a few more fans in on a Friday night for those that can make it on a work day. But I’m not sure it will make too much difference to the attendance.”