Glentoran boss Alan McDonald has urged his players to ignore the JJB Sport Premiership table — despite his side roaring back to the summit on Saturday.
A Kyle Neill-inspired 3-0 victory at Lisburn Distillery gave the Oval men a one point advantage over cross-town rivals Linfield, who surprisingly slipped up at home to Newry City.
The dark days of December seem to be a distant memory as far as results are going as Neill’s first-half brace and a solo effort from substitute Andrew Waterworth sealed the three points at Ballyskeagh. With the Big Two both in action tomorrow night, McDonald is more concerned with keeping the consistency going right now rather than any psychological edge at the top.
“I think that we tend to make too much at this time of the season as regards league standings,” said McDonald.
“Yes, it’s always nice to be up there or thereabouts, but the most important thing for me is that we had a terrible December apart from the CIS Cup win at Coleraine which we played very well in.
“I’ll let others look at the table and talk about it but it doesn’t mean too much even at this time of the year as teams are taking points off each other almost every week. We have had two fabulous results last week and this week and as I have said, we are always striving for consistency.
“I suppose every manager will say the same thing but the main thing for me is going to be consistency — if we can consistently play to our strengths and play as well as we can do then we will alright. I don’t think anyone at the game would have seen it as a classic but the conditions dictate that, a gusty wind, the pitch was a wee bit bobbly and a wee bit hard. Sometimes in football you have got to learn that not only do you play the opposition but you have to learn to play the condition as well. But two gutsy performances, two wins and hopefully we can aim for a little bit more consistency than what we had in December.”
The visitors certainly played the windy conditions right in the first half; Neill causing chaos with two corners that were their only two attacks but both resulted goals.
Ryan McCann handled the first corner on three minutes, Neill converting the penalty, before Phil Matthews could only push the second one on 30 minutes onto the bar and in. Neill’s goals paved the foundations of this win and whilst Waterworth created his own goal-scoring opportunity on 74 minutes the Whites had the lion’s share of possession for the remainder of the game but it was a case of no punch for Paul Kirk’s battlers and he knew it.
The Whites were also down to 10 men for the last thirty-four minutes after Matthews was red-carded for a high challenge on the advancing Gary Hamilton.