Matthews can’t wait for Glentoran
Lisburn Distillery goalkeeper Phil Matthews has been charged with the task of giving the champions a rocky start to their bid for title retention — and he can't wait to keep them out.
The veteran stopper says this is the ideal time to be taking on Glentoran with the prospect of a bit of ring rust stopping them from really hitting their true potential so early in the season.
“This is the best time to get them, both teams will be nervy and it will be the team that settles down earlier that will win it,” said Matthews.
“You usually find it takes two or three matches to get going — everyone needs time to settle in and this is where we can take advantage if we settle better than they do.
“Obviously all the pressure is going to be on them as champions so we can go out and hopefully enjoy it a bit more.
“It's going to be a battle for them and Linfield this year — they are both favourites to be up there but they won't get it easy. I know the Glens and Blues boys were saying they weren't looking forward to going to Seaview but I would hope they would say the same thing about us.”
There is a new buoyancy about New Grosvenor at the minute, fresh faces on the pitch and a new one, if not quite as fresh, on the sidelines, bringing a bit of excitement that is always reserved for a new boss — in this case Jimmy Brown.
Brown's appointment was somewhat controversial in that he took over from Paul Kirk — highly respected and regarded as the reason behind the Whites relative success in recent years.
And while Matthews admits it's been a bit different, he too has a spring in his step brought about by so many changes at the club.
Glenn Ferguson, Glen Whelan, Dave Rogers, Gavin Melaugh and Rory Hamill among others have all joined Brown at the Whites and Matthews has been impressed by what he has seen so far.
“It's exciting — the boys have all settled in well; we've a lot of good signings and he's strengthened the squad. We lost a few players but I think he's brought in good quality,” he said. “The gaffer wants to bring some sort of trophy here. In all the time I've been here we've only one trophy from winning the First Division and that doesn't really count.”