Sloppy Ports just can't afford to fall further behind, warns McFall
Long-serving Portadown boss Ronnie McFall admits today's showdown with Glentoran at The Oval is a must-win for his side.
The Ports have fallen nine points behind leaders Linfield in the Danske Bank Premiership and, although McFall isn't duly concerned at this stage, he doesn't want the gap to widen.
"It's still early days," said McFall, who is in his 29th year in the Shamrock Park hotseat. "Teams are still feeling their way. In saying that, we can't afford to fall further behind."
With last week's Mid-Ulster derby rescheduled due to the involvement of Glenavon's James Singleton and Joel Cooper with the Northern Ireland Under-21 squad - it is now pencilled in for September 22 - McFall insists his boys must get back on track following their defeat by Linfield a fortnight ago.
"We had a good first-half and really could have gone in at half-time in front," he recalled. "But we were totally overrun after the break.
"They upped the tempo and we just couldn't match that.
"It makes the fixture at The Oval even more significant. Games between the teams are always feisty affairs and I would expect this will be the same.
"By all accounts, Glentoran were not good against Ballymena last weekend, so I'm sure they will want to improve on that.
"However, we must focus on what we have to do to win the game.
"Yes the league table doesn't make particularly good reading for our supporters, but we still have a game in hand.
"Linfield certainly have been the most consistent side to date, but I don't really take much heed of the league table until around the turn of the year.
"That's when it gives a fair indication of who will be in the shake-up for the title.
"It's much too early to be predicting anything at this stage of the season - we are only a few games in."
McFall will travel to east Belfast vastly under strength, still missing a number of his first-team personnel due to injury.
Goalkeeper David Miskelly, defensive pair Ken Oman and Garry Breen and midfielder Peter McMahon will all look on from the grandstand.
"It's been like that since the start of the season," lamented McFall. "Miskelly had a scan in midweek which diagnosed a posterior cruciate problem.
"He also has some bone bruising.
"But he doesn't require surgery. It's a case of letting him rest to give the injury a chance to settle down.
"Oman sustained a hamstring problem during Tuesday night's training, while Breen damaged a hamstring in the League Cup win at Larne and is still feeling the effects.
"McMahon has been bothered by a groin complaint while Tim Mouncey also has ankle trouble."
On the plus side, McFall is hoping to welcome back Keith O'Hara.
The reliable defender has been missing after picking up a neck injury against Ballinamallard United on August 22.
"He came through training this week, so we'll assess him before the game," added McFall.
"Keith sustained a serious neck injury - his arm even went numb. We'll certainly be taking no risks with him."