Carrick Rangers boss Stuart King has labelled tonight’s clash with Portadown at the Loughshore Leisure Arena as a ‘cup final’ with both clubs striving to avoid the threat of relegation.
Rangers, who crashed to their 18th defeat of the Danske Bank Premiership campaign when losing at home to Linfield on Friday night, sit six points ahead of Paul Doolin’s Ports in the table and a victory would almost certainly guarantee their safety.
Stopping short of stating it is a ‘six-pointer’ for both clubs, King insists his focus is on catching Dungannon Swifts, rather than falling into the drop zone.
“We are still hovering just above the relegation places, but hopefully we can take off over the last phase of games,” said King. “It’s a massive game against Portadown, it’s maybe not a six-pointer, but it’s a big game for both clubs. We must play them again when the split takes place.
“Dungannon are only two points ahead of us, there are plenty of games left. We are six points clear and we have a superior goal different (to Portadown), so we must start looking up, not down.”
King admits he had to read the riot act to spark his boys to life against the Blues last time out. He added: “We now have nine cup finals to play. I pride myself of getting the best of out the team. I give everything as manager and I expect them to give everything.
“I knock my pan in — that’s the way I’ve always been. I expect that from my players. I questioned them at half-time, that’s the first time I’ve done that all season. But they showed me what they are about in the second half.
“It’s about getting over the line and getting points on the board. Football is a ruthless business. It was another game that got away from us because, on our second half performance, I thought we could have nicked a point.
“Once again, we matched one of the big teams and we were really competitive, but we were beaten by the odd goal, it’s happened to us about 10 times this season.”