Belfast Telegraph

Glens in mood to halt Reds title tilt

By Graham Luney

Elliott Morris believes Glentoran have the weaponry to knock Cliftonville's title challenge off course this weekend.

The Reds will arrive at the Oval still dreaming of securing back to back titles for the first time in the club's history.

But even though the Glens' old enemy Linfield are also hunting down a Gibson Cup triumph, Solitude boss Tommy Breslin will expect no favours from Eddie Patterson's side.

The east-Belfast giants are now scrambling for European qualification after sealing their place in the top six after this month's league split.

Cliftonville, who are trailing Linfield by two points, know any dropped points could inflict a hammer blow on their title hopes and Glens skipper Morris is promising them a titanic tussle in the east of the city.

"I think we definitely can beat Cliftonville if we play well and we have been playing well," said the Glens stopper.

"People were tipping us to miss out on a top six spot but we made that target with ease.

"Our fixtures are tough but we are targeting European football and without that it would harm our efforts to rebuild the squad in the future.

"If we want to be a better side we will have a better chance of achieving those objectives if we can quality for Europe and while we know third place is probably beyond us, if Crusaders can go on to win the Irish Cup we can claim that fourth placed position and a European spot.

"I think it's great the title race is not a one-sided affair like it was last year and I can't predict who will win it this time around as both sides are very strong and finishing off teams.

"I know Linfield will be hoping we can do them a favour but our motivation is to win the game for ourselves. Every team does their own job and we are no different.

"We beat Cliftonville in the Irish Cup final and also beat them 3-0 at The Oval in the league last season and although the personnel was different, I know we can test them again.

"They rely heavily on the two boys up front and I think if you asked supporters which strikers they would like to see in their team Joe Gormley and Liam Boyce would be the answer.

"If they are banging in 60 goals a season Cliftonville will be in the title mix and we must keep them quiet on Saturday if we are going to take anything from the game."

The Glens go into that Belfast derby after recording three clean sheets in their last four matches, including a shut-out of Shamrock Rovers in the Setanta Cup on Monday.

Rovers won the tie 5-1 on aggregate, finishing off Irish League interest in the all-Ireland tournament. Crusaders, Coleraine and Ballinamallard United also exited the competition which Linfield and Cliftonville declined to enter.

"Something needs to be done about it because the competition takes on a farcical look without the best teams," added Morris.

"I think there is merit in an all-Ireland tournament but they need to look again at the sponsorship and prize money.

"I know the southern teams are better because they have a full-time set-up but we made it to the final before and both Crusaders and Linfield have won it so we have raised our game on occasions.

"Our focus now is on the push for a European place and hopefully we can secure that after the huge blow of going out of the Irish Cup.

"Looking back on that game (against Glenavon) they deserved to beat us because they were much better in the second half. It was a bitter disappointment but now we must focus on finishing as high as we can in the league."

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