Friday 25 October 2019, Kick Off 7.45pm
This evening we welcome Ballymena United to the Oval for our second meeting this season.
United are currently one place and four points behind us, in sixth place, but have played a game fewer. So this is a definite six pointer, as was last week’s victory at Larne. Though while we have lost just two of our last seventeen visits to the Showgrounds, our home record is poor as Ballymena have won nine times at the Oval on the past ten years, compared to our five. Including a 1-0 win on their only visit last season. Our last home win was in February 2016 when goals from Ciaran Caldwell and Jonathan Smith secured a 2-0 win.
We’ve won the last two meetings between the teams, most recently two months ago at the Showgrounds when two late goals from Robbie McDaid gave us a 2-1 win, our first of the season. While in March again away from home, we put in one of our best performances of last season as we never looked in trouble in a 2-0 victory with an excellent goal in each half from Paul O’Neill and Robbie McDaid. So, we have another great match in prospect, between two more well-matched teams.
Ballymena sports journalist Stephen Alexander shared with www.glentoran.com his thoughts on United’s summer dealings and start to the season: “Emulating last season’s remarkable exploits – when they finished runners-up in the Danske Bank Premiership – was always going to be a massive ask for Ballymena United.
One of the key factors in United’s achievement last year was a largely settled team but manager David Jeffrey hasn’t been able to enjoy the same luxury this time around.
Key players from last season’s campaign have been unavailable through injury, with midfielder James Knowles yet to kick a ball, while striker Adam Lecky – a pivotal figure in the way United play – has been restricted to just one appearance, although Ballymena fans will be delighted to hear he is close to fitness. Throw in the fact that Lecky’s striker partner – the prolific Cathair Friel – missed the best part of a month recently and it’s not difficult to see why United have struggled to reach the heights of last year.
Jeffrey has said he believes this year’s Premiership is the toughest since he’s been at the Showgrounds, due to the investment that a number of clubs have been able to make.
When the sides last met in August, Glentoran recorded their now traditional victory at the Showgrounds. Ballymena will be hoping their equally impressive record at the Oval is maintained on Friday night.
Mick McDermott: “Our two close wins against Larne last week were very positive and very encouraging. They were very well-matched games and I thought in both games, both sides had spells where they were well on top. But ultimately results are the important thing and we were very happy to come away with two wins over a very good team who play football the way it should be played and who’ll win a lot more than they lose this season. We made several changes and the lads who came back in last Friday – the likes of Paul, Cricky and Navid – were excellent. That’s the benefit of a big, talented squad. Our fans were fantastic again at Inver Park, both interms of numbers and noise. I know they have high expectations and we will continue together on the climb to where we all want our club to be.
For Friday’s game we welcome David Jeffrey and his squad, and we know he will have his team ready for the challenge at the Oval. Like the Larne games, we had a very tight game at the Showgrounds earlier in the season before winning it with two late ones, so we know we’ll also need to be up for this one right from the start. We have no injury problems from last week’s matches, and I’m pleased to say that Curtis and Calum will be joining our team sessions at training next week so it’s great to know we’ll have them both available soon.
The fact that we’ve had a full squad to pick from is in no small part due to the skills and dedication of our physio Gareth Robinson. Gareth is absolutely brilliant. He joined us at the start of the season after eighteen years as Head Physiotherapist at Ulster Rugby. He has done a great job to keep us healthy and works tirelessly to get our players back to training. I have worked with elite physios at the World Cup, at multiple clubs and at the international level. I can safely say that Gareth is up there with any of them. He is a massive part of this Glentoran project. We aim to upgrade all aspects of this Club and Gareth is another key component”
Prior to kick off this evening, the club will make a presentation on the pitch to a Glentoran Great of the 1940s, Bertie Wright, to mark the occasion of his 100th birthday. Bertie is also on the cover of a special edition of the Glentoran Gazette. We urge all supporters to try to take their seats early to give Bertie the welcome he so richly deserves for his 80 years as Glentoran player and supporter.
There will also be a bucket collection for Northern Ireland Kidney Research.
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.
Friday’s match sponsor is Ballybeen Improvement Group
Ballybeen Improvement Group and their health and wellbeing subgroup have worked tirelessly over several years to get a sports facility in the estate.
This has finally happened, and we are so proud that next month the new 4g multi-sport facility will open at our health and wellbeing hub.
We will hold a number of events over the weekend of 29th November to 1st December with Glentoran Legends playing a Ballybeen Select side on Sunday 1st December as a curtain raiser and fundraiser.
There is a rich history of Glentoran players from Ballybeen and with the help of this new facility there will be many more in the future.
Unit 7 Enler Complex
Ballybeen BT16 2QP
Tel 028 9048 9990