Glentoran captain Paul Leeman claims that his team will come out fighting as the east Belfast men set about overturning Linfield’s eight point lead at the top of the Carling Premiership.
Leeman is warning the Blues that they can’t afford to think that the league is over, with the Glens determined to keep the heat on their Belfast rivals.
The Blues boosted their chances of lifting the Gibson Cup for the fifth time in six seasons by beating the Glens 2-1 at Windsor Park on Tuesday night to open up that yawning gap.
Scott Young’s men have been set a huge task in trying to halt Linfield, but it’s not one that Leeman fears in any way and he knows exactly where the Glens need to make their move.
“Losing on Tuesday night was a huge blow, but the league’s not over yet,” said Leeman, who will look for three points at home to Donegal Celtic tomorrow.
“There are a lot of points to played for, we’re determined to keep challenging and we won’t give up without a fight.
“The gap is eight points, but bigger leads have been turned around before. It’ll be difficult because Linfield have a good squad, but we’ve still to play them twice and if we could win those games that would be six points, so it’s not impossible.
“We’ll be going out to win every game and then we’ll see where that takes us.”
Amazingly Linfield manager David Jeffrey has found a kindred spirit in Leeman.
The Blues boss has shrugged off suggestions that the title race is done and dusted, saying that it’s ‘nowhere near over’ and Leeman won’t argue one iota.
“David Jeffrey himself has said that it’s not over and we won’t be thinking that either. There would be no point in us turning up for the rest of the season if we did,” said Leeman.
“If Linfield do start to think it’s over that’s when you begin to give yourself problems. We know that we need to play a lot better, but there is no problem with confidence and our performances haven’t been bad.
“I felt that we deserved something out of the game on Tuesday night and the fact that our fans clapped us off at the end, despite losing to Linfield, said a lot.
“We need to get ourselves on a winning run and get to the level of consistency that we had at the start of the season.”
As a lifelong Glenman Leeman is glad that the club’s rocky financial state is improving after new investment saw a winding-up order scrapped last week.
“The players were never really distracted by what was going on off the pitch,” said Leeman.
“It’s our job to go out and play and the manager has been good at keeping us focused on what we have to do.
“We are aware of the situation though and obviously it is a boost for the club that the financial situation looks to be sorted out.
“We have to concentrate on putting things right on the pitch because that’s what the fans care about most.”