Portadown teenager tipped for 'big things' after scoring against Linfield
Portadown manager Matthew Tipton is hoping that his side's impressive performance against Linfield in the BetMcLean Cup can be a turning point for their season.
The Ports entered Tuesday's quarter-final fourth in the Bluefin Sport Championship and on a run of only two wins in eight games, but they gave David Healy's side a real fright and only lost 2-1 at Shamrock Park to an injury-time goal from Jordan Stewart.
Runaway Championship leaders Larne won't be caught at the top, so Tipton's aim will be to finish as runners-up and grab a promotion play-off spot.
He wants to take the numerous positives from the Linfield game into Saturday's home league encounter with Knockbreda (5pm).
"What we need is that same intensity and level of desire every week to defend, create chances and score goals," said Tipton.
"The challenge to the players now is don't become the team that raises their game, be the team that produces the level of performance on show against Linfield no matter who we're playing.
"Everybody is going to have an off-day, but the same level of commitment gives us more chance of winning games.
"The only answer to whether that performance against Linfield proves a turning point in our season comes at the end of April.
"Hopefully in five months' time I can turn around and say that was the case.
"I wouldn't be disrespectful to say it took Linfield to get the best out of our players, but tactically against a more organised team from the Premiership compared to the Championship we were able to exploit things.
"I don't mean that as any disrespect to the Championship teams.
"I just think we are set up to do certain things and looking more solid defensively against Linfield gave us that platform to go forward.
"In the Championship, we are expected to go hell for leather from minute one to minute 90, but that's not how football works, and then players and maybe fans get frustrated."
Teenager Ryan Carmichael was on the scoresheet against Linfield. The gifted 17-year-old was a constant threat.
Tipton said: "We've been pushing Ryan forward since I came into the club eight or nine months ago and he keeps getting better.
"We are expecting big things so want to make sure he keeps learning and developing."
Meanwhile, unbeaten leaders Larne, who struck late on to rescue a 1-1 draw at bottom club Dergview last weekend, host second-placed Dundela at Inver Park on Saturday.
There are 14 points between the top two teams. Elsewhere, third-placed Carrick Rangers entertain Harland & Wolff Welders, Loughgall go to improving Ballinamallard United, Dergview travel to Ballyclare Comrades and Limavady United play PSNI (all 3pm).