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Small up for big challenge from Portadown

Carrick Rangers boss Stephen Small is never lacking in confidence when it comes to facing challenges.

And he knows he has one on Saturday when Portadown arrive at Taylor’s Avenue in the Irish Cup.

But he will be heartened by the statistic that shows the Ports do not boast a great away record in this competition in the last few years.

One has to go back to 2005 when a Vinny Arkins goal gave them victory at Clandeboye Park against Ards for their last away win.

Incidentally, Saturday’s match will now start half an hour earlier, at 2.00pm, because of damaged electrics following the fire at the club a few weeks ago.

“It is an intriguing tie and hopefully it will go ahead,” said Small whose team, like most others, has been severely curtailed in fulfilling fixtures.

“Playing football is what we are all about and the prolonged period of no matches has been frustrating,” said Small.

Dundela are other possible giant-killers in their clash with Coleraine at Wilgar Park.

Thankfully, the days when all intermediate clubs, unless they had a senior ground, had to travel if drawn against a Premier League club, are gone.

And it remains to be seen how Coleraine handle the tight surrounds and slope of the ‘Hen Run.’

At least the Duns were able to get in a friendly last week against Ballynahinch on the new all-weather surface at the Hanwood Centre in Dundonald where they enjoyed a 3-2 win over the Amateur League outfit.

Dundela have a history of upsets — even winning the Irish Cup back in 1955.

Duns boss Mark Snodden has centre-back Kyle Alexander back following a spell with Ballymena United and while Coleraine are enjoying a good season in the top tier, they will not relish this task.

H&W Welders take on Glenavon at Tillysburn Park and, while this is a potential ‘banana skin’ for Marty Quinn’s Lurgan Blues, it will be a major surprise if the senior side do not emerge victorious.

Five intermediate teams are guaranteed a place in round six as Coagh United entertain Tobermore United, Nortel are at home in the all-Amateur League clash with Bryansburn Rangers, Loughgall face Ards Rangers, Glebe Rangers take on high-riding Ballinamallard United and Ballyclare are up against Islandmagee.

And of course with the Comrades at home, Ards — who share Dixon Park — must travel to Ballymena United.

Belfast Telegraph