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Windsor bravery can ignite a survival bid, says Currie

By Alex Mills

Niall Currie insists his Portadown boys have set the bar - and there is no going back. The Ports turned in their best performance of the season last week against Linfield at Windsor Park - a display that had Currie beaming from ear to ear.

It took a last-gasp equaliser from Josh Carson to spare the Blues' blushes.

It also deprived Currie's boys of a crucial three points.

They roared into a shock lead nine minutes from time when Adam Foley lobbed home a beauty and looked set to end a run of six successive defeats, until Carson struck.

"My message to the boys is, 'if you can go to Windsor Park and play like that, then you have to back it up with a similar type of performance this week'," said Currie.

"I would probably have taken a point before the match but we were really disappointed to leave with only one, we should have had all three. It was a little bit cruel the way we conceded right at the finish.

"To a man, the lads were magnificent. We had a game plan and it worked a treat. Every one of them put in a massive shift."

It's a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Ports as table-topping Crusaders, the current title holders, are primed to leave a calling card at Shamrock Park today (5.30pm).

"There is no doubt Crusaders will be a massive challenge," said Currie. "They are the league's most consistent team - the best side in the country and I've no doubt they'll retain the league title in a few weeks' time. Stephen Baxter deserves a lot of credit.

"But we must show the same hunger, the same application and the same passion and commitment as we did last week.

"If we do that, it's all I can ask for. I ask the players for honesty every week.

"I didn't get that the week before the Linfield match when we turned in our worst performance of the campaign and were well beaten by Ards. We were dire - that's the only way of describing that display.

"We sat down and had a clear the air chat after that one and I told the boys what I expected and what was required from them."

Currie will rely on the squad that performed so heroically at the international venue.

"Why not?" he countered. "The boys deserve it. We were missing quite a few experienced heads last week - Breen, Oman, Lyttle and O'Hara were all out, plus a few more.

"Brendan Shannon played at the back along with a 17-year-old, Ross Larkin, and they were fantastic. It's the second time we have had to call on Ross this season. He's a raw kid and we don't want to put too much pressure on him. He was brought in for the Loughgall Irish Cup tie earlier this season and he didn't put a foot wrong.

"The lad has a big future at the football club, but we don't want to throw him in at the deep end too often.

"He's one of a number of young kids coming through, so it's important to keep his feet on the ground.

"Jordan Lyttle trained this week so there is a chance that he could be included, but he hasn't played for three weeks."

Currie's men are still nine points adrift of Carrick Rangers at the bottom, but he still hasn't thrown in the towel in terms of escaping the drop.

"Consistency has been our problem, or lack of it," he added.

"We have to treat every game as a cup final from now until the end of the season to see where it takes us.

"The supporters have turned out in big numbers to back us - they have been fantastic.

"It's important the players turn in an honest shift and let the fans see they are putting in the effort for the jersey."

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