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January arrivals could be the missing pieces Portadown have been looking for, hopes clean sheet hero Jethren Barr

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Portadown's Jethren Barr makes a save on his way to a clean sheet against Coleraine (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

Portadown's Jethren Barr makes a save on his way to a clean sheet against Coleraine (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

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Portadown's Jethren Barr makes a save on his way to a clean sheet against Coleraine (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

Portadown goalkeeper Jethren Barr believes the club’s January arrivals could be the final pieces of the puzzle that they need to stave off relegation and stay in the top flight.

The South African was the star of the show at Shamrock Park where he kept a clean sheet in helping them earn a 0-0 draw with Coleraine, but he was quick to deflect the praise elsewhere.

Manager Matthew Tipton has already moved this month to bring in experienced centre-back Howard Beverland, while they have also added to their attacking corps with the arrivals of Jamal Dupree and Jack Smith.

The excellent Barr, who has been one of the Ports’ most consistently strong performers this campaign, has thanked his boss for bringing in some experience for their back division and believes Beverland will be a big addition to their squad.

"We’ve dropped the most points in the league from a winning position, so a lot of late goals have been coming and we’ve been really unlucky with that,” explained the 26-year-old.

"That’s why we need guys like Howard coming in and I think Michael Ruddy in the midfield, he does really well there and I think that’s a better position for him, he chips in with a few goals as well.

"We’re starting to find our shape, some missing pieces of the puzzle, and I think we can start claiming a few more wins as well.

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"Credit to them, it’s not easy to come here and fight relegation. The guys have been brave, they’re looking to play football and I have to give a lot of credit to them because I know it’s not easy coming in this environment when there’s a lot of talk about the club fighting relegation.

"They’ve done really well, I’m happy to have them here. We needed that experience in our back four, so thanks to coach Matthew Tipton for bringing (Beverland) in.”

With the draw, Portadown are now five points clear of bottom placed Warrenpoint Town in the bid to avoid automatic relegation, although they have fallen six points behind Dungannon Swifts after their unlikely win away to Larne.

The Ports and Swifts face each other next, the pair meeting at Stangmore Park next Saturday in a massive game in the context of the relegation race, and Barr concedes it is already in the must-win territory, particularly after Dean Shiels’ side won at Inver Park.

"That makes that game a big six pointer for us,” admits Barr.

"We have to jump them, that’s our aim. We’re only looking upwards, so the next target that we need to jump is Dungannon and we’ll go into that game all guns blazing because we need to win that game.”


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