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Troubled Portadown in pursuit of cup cheer against champions Crusaders

By Graham Luney

Published 12/10/2016

Injury concerns: Stephen Baxter must make changes
Injury concerns: Stephen Baxter must make changes

The way things have been going for Portadown this season, the luck of the draw was destined to elude them as well.

Still nursing the hangover of having their appeals rejected by the Irish FA, manager Pat McGibbon and his side must face the Premiership champions Crusaders at Shamrock Park in the third round of the League Cup tonight.

It's been an horrific few days for the mid-Ulster men, kicking off with a 6-0 loss at Dungannon Swifts on Saturday, but their mood really darkened when the IFA verdicts were confirmed to the club on Monday.

The 12 point deduction for making irregular payments to players was rubberstamped, and Coleraine were awarded a 3-0 win from the postponed opening fixture in August.

Morale at the club has hit new depths, but McGibbon must find some character from within his dressing room for the visit of Stephen Baxter's side.

The Crues boss, however, has injury concerns as Declan Caddell has dislocated a toe and Philip Lowry has a broken bone in his hand that will require surgery.

Last season's beaten finalists Ards host Warrenpoint Town, while Glenavon have home advantage against H&W Welders.

Lurgan Blues boss Gary Hamilton said: "We got to the semi-final in my first season as manager but, while we've done well in the League and the other competitions since then, we've been disappointed to go out at the early stages in the League Cup.

"We want to win every game we play and we'll play the strongest side we can put out."

Dungannon Swifts entertain Ballinamallard United while Armagh City will hope to cause an upset against Carrick Rangers at Holm Park and Coleraine are at home to Knockbreda.

League Cup Third Round fixtures (7.45pm): Portadown v Crusaders, Dungannon Swifts v Ballinamallard Utd, Knockbreda v Coleraine, Ards v Warrenpoint Town, Armagh City v Carrick Rangers, H&W Welders v Glenavon (at Mourneview Park), Ballymena Utd v Linfield, Annagh Utd v Cliftonville.

Belfast Telegraph

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