Premiership exit risk but coach calls for ‘integrity’ and pride before any fall

It remains to be seen if Saturday’s win offers Warrenpoint Town simply a stay of execution or the spark for a remarkable relegation fightback.
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However, irrespective of results over the remaining four Premiership games, Town first-team coach John Gill wants the top-flight’s lowest-placed side to go out on a high - to play with pride even if it comes before the fall.

Kealan Dillon’s first-half penalty kick proved decisive at Shamrock in the battle between the bottom two sides.

On an afternoon in which the Ports could have kicked off the post-split set of fixtures with a significant step forward towards chasing down the sides sitting outside the drop zone, it proved a squandered opportunity as Warrenpoint recorded three points for the first time since February 12 to secure a slender lifeline and cut the gap on Portadown to nine points.

Warrenpoint Town first-team coach John Gill (right) and players following Saturday's Danske Bank Premiership win over Portadown.Warrenpoint Town first-team coach John Gill (right) and players following Saturday's Danske Bank Premiership win over Portadown.
Warrenpoint Town first-team coach John Gill (right) and players following Saturday's Danske Bank Premiership win over Portadown.

Gill, stepping into the spotlight for suspended Town boss Barry Gray, was quick to praise the organisation at the heart of the 1-0 success.

And Gill maintains the challenge the Town players must continue to meet over the closing weeks of the campaign is to build on the blueprint for a final flourish.

“I think it’s very easy when you’ve had the run we’ve had and in our position to then throw in the towel,” said Gill. “But we want to show a little bit of integrity to the league and be fair to everyone in the split.

“We’ll do that - I challenged the players today that, with five games left, to forget about the league table, finish the split on a high note and show people what we are about.

“We’ve lost, if I’m not mistaken, 11 of our last 13 games or so by one goal - a lot in the last minutes - we’ve been very competitive in a lot of games.

“I’m not playing a violin here but I think we’ve had a lot of bad luck over decisions and injuries but we’ve stuck together and I think we’ve got a good group here.

“If we do happen to go down - which is probably more than likely - I think we’ve the nucleus here of a decent squad that can maybe bounce back.

“This year we were 2-0 up against Portadown at our place and lost 3-2, then they beat us 1-0 at our place and that was a game I felt we should have won as by far the better team that day.

“Last day we came here we should have got something out of the game I feel, there were terrible conditions - they took their goal and defended very well...something similar to what we did today.

“Of all the teams, we owe Portadown one.

“In fairness, we worked on a gameplan all week and I think you saw a very well-organised and committed side, particularly defensively.

“I thought we were excellent, we hit the post in the first half, it was a great move for the penalty and I think we were good value for our win.

“We got a goal up and defended properly, we’ve not had many clean sheets so that was another plus but we looked fit and organised.

“I can’t give the players high enough praise, it’s been a very difficult season.

“We will just keep battling away - if it means taking two steps back to come forward then that’s what we’ll do.

“What today does is give us is a little bit of self-respect and we’ve got to look for that now.

“In certain games we’ve not been good enough as a group, we’ve let ourselves down and we’ve let the club down and that’s been disappointing.

“Midweek games have been a problem, it’s something we have to look into...maybe it’s the travelling with so many southern players.

“When we’ve had the proper time to prepare for Saturday games we’ve been really, really competitive.

“It would be easy when sitting 12 points behind to roll over and play kids but that belittles the’ve got to show respect.

“Players are also playing for contracts... it’s a shop window.”