McFall urges Ports to maintain title push
RONNIE McFall has taken one look at the fixture list and challenged his Portadown players to go on a run that will turn up the heat on their title rivals.
The Ports meet Linfield tomorrow and after the traditional Boxing Day derby with Glenavon, they then tackle Crusaders, Glentoran and Cliftonville in January.
With the other teams in the top half of the Premiership also facing festive fixtures against each other, points are going to be dropped and McFall wants to be in a position to capitalise.
"It's tight at the top of the table and it's going to be tight all the way to the end of the season," said McFall.
"If you look at the results from the start of the season basically you can hardly pick a winner in most of the matches.
"We are in a good position at the minute and I always maintain that if you are going to win the thing then you have to put yourself in a challenging position coming into the New Year.
"That's when the pressure really comes on everybody.
"You start to run out of games as the weeks go by and you need to stay in a good position at that stage."
The Ports' challenge could falter if they are blighted by injuries or suspensions, with McFall recently having to fill the bench with untried youngsters and others, in Sean Mackle and Keith O'Hara, who were only returning from injury.
The Ports boss, however, is too long in the tooth to rush out and sign just anyone.
"We have the smallest panel in the league as far as the top teams are concerned. We also have injuries with Ross Redman out for basically the season, Emmet Friars is out long term too," said McFall. "We could do without the likes of that.
"We thought Emmet may need an operation, but that has been put back until he sees a specialist in January and we will see what way things are then and take it from there.
"I'm looking to see what we might pick up in January, but whether the money is there is another thing.
"It's not a good time to be looking for players because everybody is basically tied up, but we won't be getting into a situation where we panic buy – no chance."