Saturday 10th November 2018, Kick Off 3pm
On Saturday we welcome Ballymena United for our first meeting of the season.
United have had a great start to the season and sit 6 points ahead of us in third place. Last season’s league meetings ended in a win each and a draw for two very closely matched teams with the final league meeting a 2-1 away win at the Oval which condemned us to the bottom half of the table when a draw would have sufficed.
Ballymena based sports reporter Stephen Alexander, who covers the club extensively, said of their current form: “The Oval has been something of a happy hunting ground for Ballymena United in recent years and the Sky Blues will feel as though they’re well-equipped to secure a positive result this Saturday. David Jeffrey’s meticulous campaign of summer signings has paid handsome dividends so far with many of the new arrivals among United’s most impressive performers.
Scoring goals hasn’t been a problem in Jeffrey’s time in charge but the major improvement this season is in United’s ‘goals against’ column, with the Sky Blues looking a much more formidable unit defensively. Jeffrey’s switch to three central defenders, aided by two attack-minded wing-backs – including former Glentoran star Steven McCullough on the left – has provided a solid platform for the Braidmen’s attacking players to showcase their talents.
Jeffrey refuses to get carried away by his side’s steady progress but there’s an increasing feeling among the club’s supporters that Ballymena are moving towards challenging at the top end of the table”.
Manager Ronnie McFall: “I was furious at how we lost last week’s match at Solitude. It was a good match between two teams trying to play the right way and over the 90 minutes nobody could have complained if the result was a draw. We were outstanding for most of the match and if we’d taken a couple of the chances we created I think we’d have been comfortable. It was a complete injustice that we didn't get something out of the game.
I don’t like talking about referees but I do need to comment on the match changing decisions against us in the past month. Some of the decisions we have had against us this season have been unbelievable. We’ve had match changing decisions by referees in three of our last four matches and it’s not fair on the players, supporters, backroom staff and directors of this club. That affects league positions at the end of a season and it’s unacceptable. All you want is a fair crack of the whip but against Glenavon, Coleraine and Cliftonville we clearly didn’t get that.
For Saturday’s match we’ve got three players out suspended – John McGuigan, Ross Redman and Stevie Gordon – so we’re pretty under strength in our midfield options though we've had it confirmed that John Heron doesn't start his suspension until Monday. Also Marcus Kane is 50:50 after injuring his knee last Saturday. Dylan Davidson and James McCarthy are likely to get a start and I’m also bringing Nigel Prentice, Jack Henderson and Mal Smith – who is 16 – in as they’ve all been doing well for the U20s and have earned their chance.
Jack Henderson, Nigel Prentice and Mal Smith
Ballymena have obviously had a good start to the season and they’re playing well. David Jeffrey has them playing a new 3-5-2 system and it seems to be working for them. But we’re fully motivated and I’m confident that if we play as we have been and don’t have any more bad refereeing decisions we can get the three points. That’s the goal”.
A reminder that before this game, the Glentoran family will once again gather at the Thomas Pearson M.M. memorial at the Directors’ Entrance for a Remembrance Service conducted by the chaplain of Glentoran Football Club, Rev. David Thompson
The Board of Directors at Glentoran Football Club would again request that all supporters travelling to the Oval by private car consider the local residents when deciding where and how to park. Local parking is freely available at the Arches Health Centre.