Belfast Telegraph

Portadown manager Ronnie McFall toasts his perfect trio as 'my best strikeforce'

By Stuart McKinley

Portadown manager Ronnie McFall has hailed his trio of free-scoring strikers as the best frontline that he has ever had.

And with the Shamrock Park boss about to mark 28 years at the club that's a big statement.

Whether former stars like Stevie Cowan, Sandy Fraser, Garry Haylock, Vinny Arkins or Gary Hamilton were better players than the current trio of Mark McAllister, Darren Murray and Gary Twigg is open to debate - probably a rather lengthy one - but McFall believes that he has never been so blessed with such a wide array of talent in attack at the same time.

Between them McAllister, Murray and Twigg have scored 23 of the Ports' 40 league goals this season, which has helped them win more Premiership matches than anyone else at the halfway stage.

And Cliftonville are only ahead of them in the Danske Bank Premiership table on goal difference, with Joe Gormley banging in 17 leagues goals on his own.

"It is probably the best strikeforce I have had, depth wise anyway, because any other team we only had two," said McFall, who takes his team to face fourth-placed Crusaders this afternoon.

"Last season we only had two and if one of them got injured we were really struggling.

"This year we have the three of them and it goes without saying that we are delighted to have them."

Earlier in the season McFall deployed a 4-3-3 system in order to get all three of his prolific marksmen onto the pitch at the same time.

Despite the high level of striking quality on the pitch, it just didn't work and the formation was quickly changed back to a more familiar 4-4-2 set up.

What McFall has in his favour now, however, is that he has three hungry players fighting for two places in the team.

And whoever plays, the manager is confident that they will deliver.

"The three of them complement each other no matter what way we go. That's a plus for us," said McFall.

"They are all top drawer. The three of them know that they are playing for two positions and if someone is having an off day we can always bring the other one on.

"The hardest part of football is to score goals and we are fortunate that we have those three who are all able to do that."

McFall recently named his all-time best XI from those that have played under him at the Ports.

None of his current players made the team, which included eight players from the club's first league title winning squad of 1990.

All 11 of them had league championship medals to their name and the challenge that McFall is laying down now is for the men wearing the red shirt these days to earn greatness by putting silverware on the table.

"I didn't think it was fair for me to put any of the current squad into it, so I basically went for players that we had going back," said McFall.

"With regards the strikers I always believe that strikers hunt in pairs, which is why I went for Sandy Fraser and Stevie Cowan.

"I could have put in Vinny Arkins, Gary Hamilton, Garry Haylock or others, because they were all top players.

"There are one or two who would have been close, but it's about winning things and putting trophies on the sideboard.

"All of the players in that team had league championship medals too.

"If this group of players can achieve the success that those guys did then there's no reason why they wouldn't be in contention in the future."

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