Belfast Telegraph

Hill says Glentoran still have more to do after big Steel Cup win over Ballymoney

Classy Glens into the groove but manager Hill is eager to see more

By Martin Mawhinney

The most accurate barometer of ambition and standards maintained by Glentoran’s reserve team manager Spike Hill was his noticeably underwhelmed reaction to a 3-0 win over Ballymoney United in the Toals Steel & Sons Cup second round on Saturday.

Normally such a result, especially against a team from the Belfast Telegraph Championship, would be greeted with delight by one from the IFA Reserve League, but it wasn’t any case of false modesty preventing the meticulous Hill from cracking a smile.

Remarkably, the Wee Glens boss felt his side underperformed. But, a forthcoming third round tie against Derriaghy CC aside, the one major positive he took from the afternoon is that his young players should be able to use it as a lesson learned on their ongoing education in the game.

He said: “I don’t mean this to be in any way disrespectful of Ballymoney, but we should have scored about six or seven. We needed to be more clinical.

“We had the game killed off at 3-0, but we took our foot  off the pedal.

“I told the boys, they are through to the next round after beating a Championship team – it is a great experience for them, but it is important they learn that if you don’t take your chances again the next time, that can be you out of it.

The man who famously led Glentoran II to a comprehensive 3-0 in the 2012 final of this competition, only to have the cup taken off them for fielding an ineligible player, says the episode is “in the past now...it has no relevance whatsoever.”

And his players - some of whom featured on that memorable Christmas morning -  played like a team unshackled by any lingering memories of the historic episode, and in truth, never looked in danger of losing. The fact that Ballymoney’s goalkeeper Bryan Moore was their standout player told its own story.

Within the first few seconds, he showed his worth by denying Dylan Elliott at point-blank range, and soon after, tipping over the bar from a Mason McSorley 30-yarder. In the fourth minute, he charged off his line to intercept Danny McKee, who had been put through by Jonathan Dallas.

Midway through the first half, McKee produced a tremendous moment of individual skill, skipping between two defenders, before launching an attempt that this time had the goalkeeper beaten, but unfortunately for him, clipped the outside of the post.

At the other end, an ineffective free kick into the wall from Ronan Fallon was the closest the away side came to creating anything resembling a chance in the opening half hour.

A sharp, heavy shower threatened to make conditions extremely testing for the men between the sticks, but Moore continued to shine, this time getting down in record time to fist away a low close-range drive from Elliott.

However, the Ballymoney shot-stopper was finally denied a clean sheet in the 36th minute. Elliott’s looping header from a Dallas cross trickled over the line, largely thanks to the leaping Ross Stewart’s unsuccessful attempt to get a connection to it, and in turn, throwing Moore off-guard.

The second arrived two minutes before half time. McKee burst through for a one-on-one with Moore, who saved his first shot, but wasn’t quick enough to prevent him from netting from the rebound. It was harsh on the goalkeeper, for all his efforts, but the scoreline fairly reflected the balance of play up to this point.

When Elliott tapped in his second goal from another Dallas assist in the 51st minute, the only question on the lips of the spectators was how many the Wee Glens were going to rack up. And yet, that turned out to be the end of the scoring.  

There were a few more chances for the Oval side, with the agile Moore keeping out further attempts from Dallas and McKee, while defender Adam Calvert was unlucky to see his 30-yard lob rattle the underside of the crossbar.

In contrast, it was difficult to recall a single clear-cut opportunity for Ballymoney all afternoon. But a post-match chat with their manager, Chris Peacock revealed the extent of the difficulties faced by he and his staff.

Peacock stated: “I am down, because we had a good pre-season, in that we had seven or eight guys who were going to sign forms to play for us this season and ended up not doing so.

“We can’t hide what’s happening here. There were only two first team regulars from last season in our squad today. Four or five were reserves, six or seven were Colts (Ballymoney’s youth team).

“I knew we would face a young, talented and enthusiastic Glentoran team today, and that’s what happened. I am not looking for hugs and kisses, but I know there is a lot of work to be done.

“We will try to bring in a couple more players in, and see how it goes.”

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