Portadown’s forward drive off ‘backs to the wall’ first clean sheet

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton is hoping to move forward now after picking up a point with ‘backs to the wall’ in the scoreless draw against Linfield.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 5:09 pm

A first clean sheet of the Premiership season arrived for the Ports with a resolute performance against ‘the best team in the country’ just four days after conceding four to league leaders Cliftonville.

It arrived in the face of mounting injuries - with the latest setback suffered by Portadown in warm-up which led to Tipton handing 16-year-old left-back Reece Jordan a start.

“With backs to the wall and making late changes to the team, maybe that helped to focus the players’ minds,” said Tipton. “We did things before today which obviously went out the window when Barney McKeown got injured in the warm-up.

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton (right) in conversation during Saturday's draw with first-team coach Trevor Williamson. Pic by Pacemaker.

“So the players knew they had to be on it all over and tight as a unit...they stuck to the gameplan to the letter.

“They knew it was a day we didn’t have a fallback plan.

“We had (full-back) Greg Hall in at centre-half, Nathan (Kerr) hasn’t had much gametime playing right-back and we’ve a 16-year-old playing left-back up against (Kirk Millar), for me, the best player in the league and certainly the best right winger over the years.

“When that happens they are mentally tuned in and it helped us deliver that performance.

“I said to them in the dressing room that no-body thinks we are going to get anything here...we’ve no defenders and injuries etc.

“But the best way to come out fighting is when up against the wall and you need to come out swinging.

“Our coming out fighting against Linfield is by being organised and I still thought we carried a threat going forward and played some good football.

“It wasn’t like we put eight or 10 men behind the ball...when we worked it, we worked it reasonably well.

“If we want to improve as a squad, we’ve got to capitalise when we do get those opportunities.

“But let’s take what we’ve got today, it’s a 0-0 and we don’t keep many clean sheets, that’s our first in the league this season.

“To keep it against, regardless of league position, the best team in the country, certainly is pleasing.

“If anyone finishes above Linfield this season they win the league.

“I know it’s only one point, a clean sheet and a performance but I’m really pleased,

“It’s not often you come away buzzing with a 0-0 but I am today.

“For everything that was against us we stood up to be counted.

“Going forward, it’s what I expect as I know them but we haven’t been doing it enough.

“I can come out and tell everyone how it’s a good squad and they’re good players who knock their pans in but, really and truly, unless you do it 3 o’clock come Saturday no-one’s going to believe it.

“And today we did...from minute one to 90.”

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