Dungannon Swifts winger Rhyss Campbell believes raising their game against the league’s lesser lights is the key to survival this season.
he Stangmore Park outfit are aiming for major improvement after finishing bottom last term.
Most of their best performances came when facing the bigger sides, with three of their four wins against Cliftonville, Coleraine and Crusaders.
But in 12 games against Carrick Rangers, Warrenpoint Town and Portadown — the three teams above them — they took just three points.
Campbell admits that record has to improve.
He was delighted that, after losing their first three matches, Dungannon got off the mark with a 4-1 win at Portadown on Saturday.
The 22-year-old, who was on the scoresheet at Shamrock Park, feels it was a significant win.
“We know we have improved since last season,” he said.
“We had a good pre-season, then three tough games (Glentoran, Coleraine and Cliftonville) to start off with, but we were always looking at the Portadown game.
“While we hadn’t picked up any points from our first three games, we were playing three of the best teams in the league.
“In this league, you are going to lose games, and you have to accept that.
“We put up a good fight and, bar the Coleraine game (a 5-0 defeat), we were only losing by the odd goal. It is about seeing if we can win these games against the teams likely to be around us.
“We struggled last season to win these sorts of games — we lost four times to Portadown, so winning on Saturday was a good marker.”
Saturday’s win saw Dungannon move off bottom spot.
Tonight they travel to Ballymena United, aiming for back-to-back league wins for the first time since March 2020.
Boss Dean Shiels is delighted the game has come around so soon.
He said: “I think it’s great for momentum — it is a tough fixture, Ballymena away is always tough, but it is a chance for us to go there with momentum and belief and go and try to win the game.”
Shiels believes it was only a matter of time until they won a game, adding: “Too many people focus on the outcome but we trust the process.
“We didn’t pick up any points previously to the Portadown game, but the players still believed and now this result will add to the self belief,” he insisted. “The staff believe, the players believe.
“We know how dangerous we can be, we know how much we can hurt teams, and we saw that at Portadown.”
Shiels believes Saturday’s win was built not just on good football, but also character, and sets the template for the rest of the season.
“There were so many good individual performances, but collectively we stood up to the battle,” he added.
“We will always play good football, we will always play a brand where we dominate the ball and try and pass it.
“But if you don’t battle and if you don’t win those individual battles, those second balls, those first balls — the things that this league typifies — then you are not going to get points.”