Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Casement is aiming to leave dark clouds behind

By Graham Luney

Chris Casement is hoping Portadown can come through what has been the toughest storm of his career to date.

The 27-year-old shares the deep frustration of the supporters who are wondering how the club's form has nosedived so dramatically this season.

Ronnie McFall's side have tasted defeat in exactly half of their 16 matches this campaign and a seventh place spot is a poor reflection of the talent and experience in the Shamrock Park dressing room.

There is hope that last weekend's fightback and victory against Carrick Rangers, despite being a man down, will signal a transformation in fortunes but that will only happen if the players keep their foot on the pedal.

Former Linfield defender Casement admits that from a personal perspective, this season has been the toughest of his career to date.

"I think everyone goes through low moments and tough periods but this one has lasted for so long and it's been my worst spell in the game," admitted the former Ipswich Town man.

"Ronnie (McFall), as the longest serving manager in Europe, can probably remember periods like this but it's new to me and very difficult to deal with.

"Chelsea have experienced something similar in the Premier League and it can happen but as players we take full responsibility for not playing as well as we can. Confidence can be affected and that's why we should always be believing in ourselves.

"The supporters are very frustrated and I can relate to that because it affects our family lives too and we want it to end.

"The fans are entitled to express concern and we are all disappointed. I think we've got to stick together and show our real strengths. Getting the rub of the green would help but we've got to work harder on the training ground and in matches."

Ports fans travelling to Ballymena United today are hoping the 3-2 win over Carrick Rangers will draw a line under the poor performances that have blighted their season.

"We showed spirit, character and fight against Carrick and we can take hope from that," added Casement, who joined the Ports shortly after Linfield's last title triumph in 2012.

"One game doesn't change a great deal but feeling sorry for ourselves is not an option and we need to keep fighting."

Matthew Tipton and David Cushley both return from suspension for United today though Gavin Taggart is expected to miss the game through injury.

After being shown a red card in last weekends game, Gary Breen will be missing from the Portadown squad.

Sky Blues boss Glenn Ferguson said: "We didn't play to our potential against Coleraine in midweek. There was one change from Saturday and we didn't play well so that's no excuse.

"You play against your biggest rivals in a cup quarter-final and don't play to your potential so it's disappointing.

"James McLaughlin was given too much time and he's in lethal form.

"I have big decisions to make - thankfully we have a few more options.

"It's good to have Matthew Tipton and David Cushley back from suspension - they will add to our attacking threat.

"We've also had Johnny Taylor and Stephen McBride on the bench in the last couple of games who offer experience.

"Gary Thompson was sick last week and was still feeling it at the start of this week. He trained on Monday night and should be okay."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph