Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Smyth could take a lead from Hamill

Gary Smyth is threatening to do to Glentoran's Premier League title hopes what his former Oval team mate did to the east-Belfast club's Irish Cup aspirations.

And this time there is nothing that the Glens can do about it.

Last month Hamill's brace for Donegal Celtic dumped Alan McDonald's side out of the cup at the quarter-final stage.

Questions were raised as to why Hamill was even allowed to play in the game, as just a few weeks earlier he sat out the league meeting between the sides as part of his loan agreement.

Smyth, however, will face the Glens when they travel to Crusaders on Saturday - as his loan deal from the Oval to Seaview became a permanent transfer during the January transfer window.

Smyth's main priority will be to keep a tight rein on Gary Hamilton and Michael Halliday as they look to shoot the Glens to another three points, but the 38-year-old also poses a threat at the other end, be it as a target for set-pieces or taking them himself with his often deadly left foot.

"I am a Crusaders player now and all being well I will be playing against the Glens on Saturday," said Smyth, who had three spells at the Oval earlier in his career.

"I suppose as long as I am on the pitch there is the potential for me to do the same as Rory Hamill, but I don't see myself getting that far forward!"

The Glens recent record of seven straight league wins has taken them to within three points of Linfield at the top of the Premier League table.

There are four games to go and Crusaders are the one team who more than anyone can have a part to play in deciding where the Gibson Cup ends up.

After Saturday they then face Cliftonville - who now need favours if they are to claim the title after falling five points off the pace - in a north-Belfast derby and then Linfield on the final day of the season.

Although he is a lifelong Glenman, Smyth has no qualms about dealing what would be a major blow to the Oval side's Championship challenge.

That seven-game winning streak that the Glens will take into the game will come under threat from a team that has won all of their last four home league games and are unbeaten on their own patch since November.

"We will be going all out to try to get a result," said Smyth.

"We have been playing really well lately, apart from what I would call a blip against Donegal Celtic a few weeks ago.

"We were poor that day, but we have bounced back and scored four goals in each of our last two games.

"We have a good record at Seaview this season; only Portadown, Lisburn Distillery and Coleraine have beaten us there.

"Now we have a couple of big games coming up, with Glentoran and Linfield coming to our place.

"There will be big crowds at those games and that will motivate us too."

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