Belfast Telegraph

Ports are relishing Larne test, insists Tipton

Confident: Portadown manager Matthew Tipton
Confident: Portadown manager Matthew Tipton

By Steven Beacom

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton will embrace the challenge of hosting runaway Championship leaders Larne tomorrow.

While Larne are determined to wrap up promotion to the top flight as quickly as possible, the Ports need points themselves in order to ensure they make the play-offs at the end of the season.

Much has been made of all the money invested in Larne by owner Kenny Bruce, but Tipton believes that counterpart Tiernan Lynch deserves credit for how he has handled the move to full-time football.

Lynch has guided Larne into the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup and they are 16 points clear of second placed Portadown in the Championship ahead of the weekend encounter at Shamrock Park.

On the Larne project, Tipton, who is bringing some exciting youngsters through at the mid-Ulster club, said: "I'm not bitter or jealous towards them. I think it is fantastic and in Tiernan I think they have a great manager who is working really, really well.

"If somebody came to me and handed me the pot of money that they have to let us go full time I'd certainly run with it as well.

"In the full-time model you have to know what you are doing. You can't go full-time and just hope that it works. You have to have a plan and a structure and Tiernan seems to have that.

"We embrace games against teams like Larne in our league because, truth be told, it isn't like that every week.

"The tactical side doesn't come out too often in terms of the opposition because there is a lot of off the cuff football played.

"We have played Larne twice, one where we drew at their place and one which we lost at home which was disappointing.

"If they do get promoted, and it looks as if they will, then they will be a good addition to the Premiership."

Third placed Carrick will move above the Ports if they triumph at home to H&W Welders and Tipton's men lose to Larne. Also in the top six, fourth placed Dundela entertain Ballinamallard United.

In the bottom six of the Championship, player-manager Ivan Sproule may return to the Dergview line-up after being cup tied for last weekend's Irish Cup defeat to Coleraine.

The Tyrone outfit have jumped off the bottom of the table after a fine league run in recent weeks and will aim to continue that form away to Knockbreda.

Limavady United are now at the root of the table and will go to Ballyclare aiming to collect maximum points.

Tenth-placed PSNI are eight points clear of Limavady but know they could be dragged into the relegation fight. They host Loughgall, who are looking for their first win since November.

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