HAVING recorded back-to-back league victories over Ards and Newry City, the next big challenge for Dergview comes in the form of leaders and favourites for the Bluefin Sport Championship Portadown tomorrow at Darragh Park.(Kick-off 3pm
As far as the league goes it’s the biggest game of the season for Ivan Sproule’s men who in recent times appear to have turned things around.
They have now won three games on the bounce including a 6-0 North West Senior Cup quarter-final victory over Tobermore United and have moved up to seventh in the Championship table.
Saturday though presents the biggest challenge yet and Sproule says it’s an opportunity for his players to lay down another marker.
“This is an opportunity for my players to play against one of the big boys and they don’t come any bigger in the Championship than Portadown,” he said.
“They are the stand out club in terms of their history and size.
“Matthew Tipton will tell you himself that this is the season they are expected to go up, for some they have been down in our league for too long.
“After success at Warrenpoint Town he was brought in to do a job
“The pressure will be on them to win on Saturday but we haven’t been beaten at home yet and we’d league to preserve that record
“It’s another big challenge for us but it’s also an opportunity for my players to send out a message if we go out and claim the three points.
“Matthew is a good coach. Portadown have the money and the players and there is a certain amount of pressure there.
“They are a good team but they’re not invincible. There is no team in our league going to do a Larne this season. There are going to be twists and turns, there are going to be three or four teams battling it out at the top and they’ll be in the mix right until the end of the season. It’s going to be a very interesting league.”
Last weekend Dergview produced one of their best performances during Sproule’s reign by recording an eye-catching 2-1 victory at Newry City with Paul Smith and Simon McGlynn grabbing the all important goals.
That impressive result came on the back of a 3-1 home victory over Warren Feeney’s Ards with the Sproules, Ivan and Andy on target, either side of a strike by Matty Callaghan.
In between Marc McConnell helped himself to a sparkling hat-trick against Tobermore United. Considering the North Tyrone men had suffered three defeats prior to that would suggest that Sproule and his team have indeed turned something of a corner.
However the former Hibs favourite is demanding more of his players for the visit of the table-topping Ports.
“Portadown will bring a big support, they always do. It’s a big day out,” continued Sproule.
“They’ll want to stay top of the league but we want to spoil the party. The boys have had their backs to the wall but in recent weeks have come out fighting.
“For me it’s all about making it three league wins on the bounce, nothing more. That would be a good achievement given where we were at a few weeks back.
“But we’re not looking too far ahead, that’s what we have been doing in recent weeks – taking it one game at a time. And it’s been working for us.
“We have been picking different teams for different opposition. It’s been working and so far we have been reaping the benefits.”
Damian McNulty and Graham Young are expected to return from holiday to be included in tomorrow’s squad although club captain Blaine Burns remains side lined with injury.