Eddie Patterson has backed Mark Clarke to have a big impact at Glentoran after his goal gave the east Belfast side a first league victory in a month.
It was a Clarke double-act for the Glens, with midfielder Richard opening the scoring 15 minutes before half-time, before Mark — who was switched from a midfield berth to cover a defensive crisis — headed home the winner on 72 minutes, barely seconds after Glenavon had equalised, with his first goal for the club.
Patterson brought Mark to the Oval in the summer and the 23-year-old is winning fans already, with Patterson very much among them.
“Mark Clarke is that kind of player. He played centre-half for me at Cliftonville as well as in central midfield,” said Patterson (pictured).
“We know what he can do, that’s why we brought him to the club. He is the right age for us and he proved today how good he can be.
“He looked like he has been playing in that position all his days.
“He has that kind of versatility which we are delighted with, the fact that we can drop him in there.”
With Jay Magee injured and Colin Nixon recovering from surgery on a broken nose Patterson was forced to bolster his defence by deploying two men who are normally midfield players in the heart of the back four.
And they shone, with back-up goalkeeper Aaron Hogg — playing in place of the suspended Elliott Morris — having little to do other than pick Marc Brown’s equaliser out of the net.
“We were down to the bare bones at the back,” said Patterson.
“We’ve four centre-halfs at the club, three of them are injured, and Jimmy Callacher, who is essentially a central midfielder who has been playing in there for us as a makeshift defender, did very well too.
The Glens are now six points off the top of the table after leading early in the season, but that’s largely down to Patterson’s squad being stretched to the limit.
“Before the game we had eight players injured and Elliott Morris suspended,” said Patterson.
“To be without those players and to get the performance and result we did, I have to be pleased.
“We’re putting square pegs in round holes and the boys adapted to the circumstances very well.”