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Portadown must adapt to new top flight mindset in bid to be a Premiership hit, admits manager Tipton

 

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Champions: Portadown manager Matthew Tipton and captain Luke Wilson with the NIFL Championship trophy

Champions: Portadown manager Matthew Tipton and captain Luke Wilson with the NIFL Championship trophy

PMAKER

Champions: Portadown manager Matthew Tipton and captain Luke Wilson with the NIFL Championship trophy

Matthew Tipton is ready for a whole new ball game as he prepares to lead Portadown into their first Premiership campaign in four years.

And with a Mid-Ulster derby on the opening day to add extra spice, Tipton is determined to meet his new challenge head on.

Three seasons playing in the Championship is longer than anyone at Shamrock Park wanted - or, indeed, anticipated - when they were relegated in 2017. Now, however, they will go from being favourites for most games to taking on the tag of underdogs as a newly promoted team.

With that will come a change of mindset, and Tipton knows that, at times, that will mean thinking on his feet if the Ports are to re-establish themselves as a Premiership force.

"I've been waiting too long for this - two and a half years since I took over at Portadown," said Tipton ahead of today's trip to Mourneview Park. "It's now a case of testing ourselves and me testing myself against all the other Premiership teams.

"I think a lot of the games are going to be very competitive and we're probably going to be behind the ball for good periods, and we have to prepare. It will be different this season and we have to adapt. If you don't adapt you're stupid as a manager.

"We have to play the game in front of us, but I'm not going in with a negative attitude and with a fear of getting hammered and then put 10 men behind the ball. We have to be aware that it could happen like that, but we'll still try to impose ourselves on games."

While targets are something that Tipton doesn't believe in, he admits that his eventual aim is to take the Ports back to where they were when his goals helped fire them to second place in 2012 and, while that ambition may be a long-term one, he expects fans' expectations to be patient.

"Ultimately I want to get Portadown back to the level we were at when I played for the club," he said. "Down the line, winning the league has to be the target - which it should be for everyone.

"We have our in-house expectations of where we think we are going to be this year, next year and the year after, but that could all change very quickly depending on things we can't control.

"Our fans will be realistic this year about what we are doing and where we are going to be, as long as they keep backing the players."

Tipton had given strong indications that he was happy to show faith in the players that secured promotion. He has, however, added experience in the shape of Aaron Burns, youthful promise in Aston Villa loanee Ben Guy, and Nathan Kerr, a regular in the Northern Ireland Under-21 team, brings versatility to the line up.

Belfast Telegraph