Glentoran 2 Newry City 0
Glentoran defender Jason Hill insists he and his team mates are feeling 'no pressure' as the race for the Carling Premiership title edges towards the halfway stage.
The Glens remain five points behind rivals Linfield, just ahead of one of the most crucial times in the season — the dreaded Christmas holiday campaign when, during which the east Belfast side have traditionally struggled in recent years.
But Hill — following a hard-earned 2-0 victory over Newry City on Saturday, thanks to goals from Andy Waterworth and Peter Steele — is adamant that all the heat is on the Blues, with their much bigger squad ensuring they should keep a firm hold on the title favourites tag.
“I have said before, the pressure is all on Linfield,” said Hill.
“They are the ones with the big squad, they can replace like for like, while unfortunately we couldn't do that.
“The pressure is all on Linfield, we shouldn't be feeling any pressure going out on the pitch. We should be enjoying ourselves.
“People said we would finish fourth or fifth this year.
“We are in second at the minute and not doing too badly, five points behind Linfield and anything can happen.”
And not feeling pressure also extends to off-pitch matters, according to Hill, with the full-back quick to point out that the players have not been affected by the well documented financial problems that have engulfed the club.
On Friday the Glens were told that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs were seeking a winding up order over unpaid taxes.
“We are paid to play football,” said Hill.
“It's up to the directors and whoever is upstairs to look after the financial side.
“It shouldn't affect anybody once they come through the gates, they should be focused on football.”
The Glens next game arrives tomorrow night when the Big Two clash in the final of the Co Antrim Shield.
And if Linfield are deemed favourites to win the league, you would think they would be a shoo-in to snap up the shield, especially given the fact that the east Belfast men are without veteran defensive duo Paul Leeman and Colin Nixon who are both absent thouggh suspension.
Waterworth, who picked up a back injury and left the pitch just 10 minutes after opening the scoring on Saturday, is also likely to be missing, as are Johnny Black, Neal Gawley and of course long term victims Sean Ward and Ciaran Martyn.
Hill is set to be the most experienced Glens player on the pitch but he is relishing his newly-acquired senior status.
“It's great to play in those sort of games,” he said. “Every Big Two game is important. It's going to be difficult without Leeper and Nicky but it's a great opportunity to get one over on (Linfield).
“It's the first piece of silverware of the season, it would be great to bring it to the Oval and it would be great to beat Linfield.”
He added: “It's a daunting task but it's something I am looking forward to. I have enjoyed my experiences playing Linfield.
“Leeper and Nicky will be big misses but it's time for the likes of me and other people to step up to the plate.
“I have played nearly 200 games and when I saw that figure I couldn't believe it.
“It's strange in a way but it is time for me to start stepping up to the plate and taking control and starting to organise and just act a bit more responsibly.
“You look around the team and we have Leeper, Nicky, Elliott, Sean Ward, Ciaran Martyn to a certain extent, although we have missed him, I think you just have to take it onto your own shoulders and try and tell people what to do and give them a kick up the bum when they need it and also try to encourage them.
“It's something I am enjoying. In the last few games I have come into the changing room and given my point of view where probably last year I wouldn't have done that.
“The gaffer has given me the go ahead to do that.”
The Glens’ goals on Saturday came via Waterworth's superb curling effort on 34 minutes and then Steele held his nerve to convert from six yards eight minutes into the second half.
It was a dominant display and one that Newry boss Gerry Flynn wasn't happy about, though he could still reflect on some positives.
“Last week (against Ballymena) wasn't acceptable, it was embarrassing, but this a big improvement,” he said.
“The pleasing thing was we didn't throw the towel in when we went 2-0 down which we did last week.
“It was an improvement but still not acceptable.”