FOOTBALL: Institute boss wary of out of sorts Portadown
Institute manager Paddy McLaughlin is warning his players not to underestimate the threat posed by a '˜wounded' Portadown side.
McLaughlin believes the Ports, who have suffered seven league defeats in their last eight outings, will turn the corner quickly.
“They will turn the corner because they are a quality side and are a big club,” stated McLaughlin.
“They will likely get a run going at some stage but I just hope it’s after our game, because I don’t want it to be against us.
“We have to respect them because they are a big out-fit with some big name players but we’ll be going into the game looking to attack and play the way we do in every game.”
Niall Currie’s side visit Wilton Park today (KO 2pm) with the ’Stute boss is looking to make their new home somewhat of a fortress.
McLaughlin was pleased with their winning start last week and admitted having supporters close to the pitch is something which he hopes will help his side this season.
“You do enjoy the crowd close to the action as it creates that bit of an atmosphere and if it helps our boys to spur them on, then so be it,” he added.
“We’ll be trying to replicate our away form because up until now the boys have been fantastic, going away from home nine out of our opening 10 games and getting results and doing really well.
“If we can do that at home then we’ll do well. We are trying to make Wilton Park into a place where no one wants to come.
“In fairness every team does that, they want to make their home pitch a fortress.
“We tried everything to get into the ground and on to the pitch as often as possible because it’s not just new to the sides coming here, it’s new to us at the minute.
“However, for one reason or another, we couldn’t do that so it was all new to our boys stepping onto the pitch last week and walking into the changing room but we have got off to a good start, though that’s all it is, it’s just a start.
“We have got another eight or nine games to come and everyone of them is going to be tough.”
One man who has given McLaughlin a selection headache is Mark Scoltock.
The big centre-back has played very well in Stute’s last two games against Coleraine and Harland & Wolff Welders.
The man he replaced Dean Curry, came off the bench and played his part in last weekend’s win over the Belfast men and has also had an excellent start to the season.
Curry has also built up a good understanding alongside fellow centre-back Caoimhin Bonner, at the heart of the ’Stute back-line which means McLaughlin has a nice dilemma this week.
“Every game is a different challenge, and no two teams are the same, so you have to treat each opponent as they are, see what their strengths and weaknesses are,” he added.
“We don’t pick a team just for the sake of it, we pick the team which we believe is capable of winning that particular game and Mark coming in was for that reason.
“Welders are very direct. They launched a lot of high balls into our box, but the big man was fantastic. He headed nearly every ball that came into our box.
“To be fair, when Dean came on he also won his headers, so, yes, I have a nice selection headache.”
With leaders Ballyclare Comrades losing at Loughgall, the Waterside men have moved to just a point behind the table toppers having played a game less, but McLaughlin isn’t worried about how other teams are doing.
“I know it’s a cliche but we are only worried about ourselves,” he said.
“We can’t do anything about other teams, we just need to concentrate on us, that’s all that matters.
“We just have to keep doing what we are doing and hopefully that will continue to bring positive results.”
Winger Stephen Curry is doubtful for this afternoon’s clash, after he picked up a dead leg injury in last week’s win over H&W Welders.