Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran 0 Cliftonville 1

A week ago, for Glentoran fans, all was right with the world. They had just beaten their fierce rivals Linfield at Windsor Park for the first time in 11 years and seemed to have proved that a defeat to Donegal Celtic the week previous was a minor blip.

It turns out that the win over Linfield was the exception in form, rather than that defeat to the Hoops.

Since beating the Blues, Glentoran have been lucky to get away with a draw against Coleraine in midweek and then, on Saturday, again they were terrible as Cliftonville headed back to north belfast with all three points and deservedly so.

The Reds ran the Glens ragged and, although it took a Ryan Catney cracker in the last minute for them to secure all three points, had they not, it would have been a massive injustice, especially as the Glens had gone down to 10 men when Andy Waterworth received two unchallenged yellow cards in the second half.

Catney's goal was stunning; taking down a Sean Ward clearance with his right foot before letting fly with a fabulous volley with his left to send the visiting supporters into raptures and inflict more gloom on Glentoran.

Even at half time Glens boss Scott Young looked defeated. He sat in his dug out and barely moved, like a huffing child who wasn't getting his own way.

Then, afterwards, he waved away the opportunity to explain why his side had just been beaten again; a result that means the Glens' record at home this year is four points from 12.

Simply shocking for a team with ambitions of at least challenging for a league title.

Young's behaviour indicates he is a man under severe pressure.

It is understandable that he felt he had no further answers to the Oval question, he has been saying the same things all season with the words ‘not good enough' used most often.

Surely somebody, somewhere knows the reason why the team perform so terribly on their own pitch.

It can't just be that they are affected by negativity from the stands when things aren't going their way — and if that is the reason then they lack the guts to play for a team of Glentoran's stature and should be shipped out.

The expectancy levels aren't any higher than they are at Linfield and the moans from the crowd — which are just as audible — don't seem to bother the Blues as they notch up double after double.

And so that can only leave the manager and his coaching staff to take their share of the blame as to why this — on paper — relatively talented bunch of players play so badly.

Are the tactics wrong? Is the coaching wrong?

Only people at the club can answer that.

Certainly Colin Nixon, speaking in the absence of Young after Saturday's defeat, wasn't being drawn on the reasons behind ‘The Curse of the Oval'.

“I don't know, it's not for me to say, I am here to play every week. It's just very frustrating. I think we let the fans down, a good crowd came to watch the match and it's just not good enough,” he said.

Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin indeed made his point that no one — certainly not his team anyway — fears going to the old east Belfast venue.

He said: “Gone are the days when you come over and you are happy to escape with a point.

“I thought anything less than three points wouldn't have done us justice and I drove that into the players at half time and thankfully that's the way it turned out.

“It was an exceptional goal, too.”

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