Saturday 17 August 2019, Kick Off 3.00pm
On Saturday we make our first visit of the season to Stangmore Park.
Although we finished above Swifts last season, our record against them was very mixed. Last August at the Oval we had a relatively straightforward 2-1 win through goals from Calum Birney and Curtis Allen. This was followed by two defeats in which we were well outplayed by the Swifts – 1-0 at Stangmore in November and then a 4-2 defeat at the Oval on New Year’s Day which was probably our worst performance of the season and which was immediately followed by Ronnie McFall’s resignation as manager. That day Steven Gordon gave us a lead against the run of play, before Swifts took total control with only a late John Herron consolation goal from the Glens. Our last meeting was Mick McDermott and Paul Millar’s first game in charge which saw a 2-1 winning start through goals from Curtis Allen and Darren Murray.
On recent developments at Stangmore Park, Adrian Rutherford of the Belfast Telegraph told www.glentoran.com : “Dungannon have four points from their opening two games. They twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Ballymena last Saturday. Then on Tuesday night they claimed a 3-2 win at Institute.
It has been a busy time in the transfer market for Swifts boss Kris Lindsay, who has brought in a group of young but talented players. They include goalkeeper Sam Johnston (23) and defender Callum Byers (22) from Ards; defender Dylan King (20) from Coleraine; and ex-Annagh winger Craig Taylor (24). Ryan Waide, a 19-year-old striker, has joined on loan from Linfield as has defender Caomhan McGuinness. Adam Harwood (24), another recruit, played for Portadown and Glenavon, before a spell in Scotland. At 31, Michael Carvill is the most experienced of the summer arrivals. The forward, a five-time title winner with Linfield and Crusaders, has made his loan move permanent.
A number of other player exits have also been confirmed. Defender Jake Dykes has been released, while January signing James Ferrin has moved to Carrick Rangers. Johnny Lafferty has retired, while Grant Hutchinson has also left the club. Goalkeeper Alex Moore, who spent last season on loan at Dungannon, has returned to Linfield. Reserve goalkeeper Evan Moran has been released. Christopher Hegarty and Jarlath O’Rourke have signed for Crusaders, and young defender Lee Upton is joining Loughgall on loan.
Conor Pepper serves the last game of his three-match suspension, but skipper Marcus Kane is available for Saturday.
Mick McDermott: “"Tuesday’s match against Coleraine left me with some mixed feelings. I was generally pretty happy with the performance apart from the short spell when we lost the two goals. The players showed plenty of effort and commitment and did very well to come back from that blow. for the team to fight back the way they did was really impressive, and it was brilliant to get the second goal. But obviously I was disappointed with the result.
Although we’ve just had two competitive matches, the new lads have bedded in very well alongside their new teammates in what is a very unfamiliar environment for most of them. Hrvoje Plum deservedly received a lot of plaudits because of his goal and his overall performance. He’s adjusting to this league, but I think everyone agrees he was excellent against Coleraine. I know what he can do with dead balls as well as in open play. The players see it in training day after day. He's deadly from those areas. It's nice that one went in.
There were other great performances from the likes of Thomas Byrne, John Herron, Joe Crowe, Mal Smith in his first full match for the first team, and Paddy McClean was outstanding on his first start. A lot of these lads will only get better as we build our playing style. I believe that some of them will prove to be a cut above this league as the season progresses. What's really good is that we can change a lot, systems, players, bring in quality for quality. To have the ability to bring the likes of Curtis Allen, Paul O’Neill, Cricky Gallagher and Calum Birney off the bench, that's a real positive for the club at the minute. Plus, Elvio had his first competitive run out for us.
The only thing that surpassed the performance of the team on Tuesday was the performance of the fans. From what I’m told that was one of the biggest home crowds for over a decade outside Linfield matches. I’m very happy to see that and the way they got behind us was fantastic. It’s like they were trying to suck the ball in for us from the city end. I think the performance and the spirit the players showed allowed them to leave with a little bit of hope that we have a team that can do something this year. There is a real feeling the team is going somewhere and with a performance like that last 30 minutes, it gives the fans a belief we’re moving in the right direction and there's a platform to build on.
We’ll need to go into Saturday’s game with the right approach. We had a good win there back in April, but I know Kris Lindsay and know he’s a very good coach with a lot of tactical awareness.
On the playing side we’ve still got two weeks left before the window closes and we’re keeping all our options open. Dwayne Nelson has joined Moyola Park, his local club. We’d all like to thank Dwayne for his three years’ service here and we will be maintaining a close relationship with him going forward. All the very best Dwayne with your new club.”