Saturday’s Tennent’s Irish Cup Quarter Final at Shamrock Park could be the most important game of the season so far for both Clubs.
Cup holders Glenavon will be going all-out to make it through to the semi-final but a resurgent Portadown have taken points from both the league leaders Crusaders and second placed Linfield in their last two league games so it’s going to be a tough test against our Mid-Ulster neighbours.
Gary Hamilton has been working hard on having a fully fit squad to select from, with two mid-week friendly games in the last seven days to give match time to those coming back from injury. “It was for the boys like Simon Kelly, Andrew Doyle and Kyle Neill who are coming back from injuries and those who haven’t got much game time recently. It was invaluable for them and for me that everyone got a run out coming into the game on Saturday and it’ll help me choose the squad for Saturday.”
The Glenavon boss is pleased that his side has kept it’s fourth consecutive clean sheet in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Carrick Rangers but that blank score-line makes it the tenth game in all competitions that the Lurgan Blues have failed to score, leading to seven defeats, four by a narrow 0-1 score line, in those ten games.
Andy Hall, who was ‘king of the assists’ last season and has proven an invaluable asset with his deliveries from set plays, had to come off with a slightly tight hamstring against Ballinamallard so he wasn’t risked on Saturday past. “Obviously we knew the pitch at Carrick was going to be heavy on the legs so we didn’t want to take the risk of losing him for Saturday. I’ve always said that when it comes to the big matches, sometimes set-pieces can be the difference. At this minute in time, Andy Hall is the best set-piece deliverer we have in our squad so the last thing I wanted to risk last Saturday was him playing and pulling up and then missing the game next Saturday and that was the reason for leaving him out of the team.
“In terms of importance, this is the biggest game so far this season. Obviously its the quarter final and its against your local rivals and in these matches you only get one bite at the cherry. If you don’t perform on the day then you don’t get a second chance and that’s you out of the competition until the next year and it’s a long time coming round again till you get the chance to redeem it in terms of cup competitions. It’s vitally important, it’s massive for everybody, and it’s massive for Portadown as well. At this point it’s really the only thing they have to play for. Ok, they’re still fighting to try and get off the bottom of the table but this game is probably the biggest game of their season as well.
“Portadown might be sitting where they are but if you add the 12 points on that were taken off them and look at the run of injuries that they’ve had this year as well, there’s no way they’re a team that are in that position in terms of quality of players.
here’s no way anyone can take this game lightly and they’ll be going into the game very confident after two really, really good results against Linfield at Windsor and Crusaders at Shamrock. They’re coming off the back of good form and we’ll have to be on our ‘A’ game to win it. It’s the same in every game in this league – if you’re not performing and you’re not on top of your game then teams can beat you. Certainly they are more than capable of turning us over if we don’t show the fight and desire and the hunger that’s required to progress in Cup matches. We have to be bang-on come Saturday and we need our big players putting in match-winning performances to get to the semi-final.”
All supporters are reminded about the regulations regarding not bringing alcohol, glass containers, flares, smoke bombs or fireworks into the ground. Read the full statement here.
The Irish Cup quarter-final will be decided on the day. There are no longer replays in the competition so the game could go to extra time and penalty kicks.
Supporters should note that Mahon Road in Portadown is closed for road works. Those who normally use this route should therefore allow extra time to get to the ground.