Ronnie McFall has a simple theory for how his Portadown team can claim the Carling Premiership title — finish above Linfield.
Actually doing that, however, is a completely different proposition.
The Ports will head to Windsor Park to face the Blues tomorrow as league leaders, a point better off than Linfield. The postponement of Monday night’s Big Two game allowed them to stay their after last Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Coleraine.
“It’s better to be at the top than be at the bottom,” said McFall, putting things simply again.
“Our confidence is high, we’ve been playing well, getting good results and we’re going to Windsor Park top of the league.
“We fully respect Linfield though. They are the team to beat and have been year in, year out.
“If you finish above them you win the league and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.
“It’s tough because Linfield are the benchmark for the rest of the league. On and off the pitch, the way they conduct themselves, everything about them is the level that everyone else is trying to get to.”
Getting to the top of the table hasn’t happened by fluke for the Ports. They’ve played entertaining and exciting football so far this season and they’ve as sharp a cutting edge as you’ll find in the league.
Matthew Tipton has hit 10 goals and Kevin Braniff nine, making the Ports striking duo the most prolific on show so far.
And when those two failed to hit the target last weekend, up stepped Tim Mouncey with the equaliser against the Bannsiders to put his team on top of the pile.
Now the challenge for McFall and his players is to stay there. That won’t be simple, but the Ports boss insists that it’s not beyond the capabilities of his talented squad.
“We’ve got the quality in our squad that can win the game and keep us on the top of the league,” said McFall.
“Linfield will say the same as they look to get back there.
“There’ll still be 25 games to go after Saturday, so there’s still a long way to go. We always come on strong in the second half of the season, so for us it’s all about staying in contention until the New Year and then we’ll look to kick on and see where that takes us.”
It’s a decade since the Gibson Cup went out of Belfast — and the only other place it’s gone to in the last 35 years is Portadown.
McFall has never lost his hunger for silverware and there would be no better way for him to mark his 25th anniversary as boss at Shamrock Park than by netting his fifth league title with his hometown club.
“We’ve got to the top of the league and now we want to stay in contention,” said McFall.
“The last thing we want is to hit a dip in form and end up out of the race. We want to be competitive and we want to be competitive right up until the last game of the season.”