Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Windsor game is top priority for McDonald

Glentoran will go to Windsor Park for a mega Big Two battle with Linfield next Saturday thanks to Dean Fitzgerald's brace against Crusaders

Alan McDonald last night admitted that Glentoran's trip to Windsor Park next Saturday now tops his priority list after their 2-0 win over Crusaders.

The Oval boss, however, is determined to lead his team into that crunch Irish Premier League encounter on a high by beating the Blues in tonight's Setanta Sports Cup clash at the Oval.

Dean Fitzgerald's first-half double was enough to clinch three more very important points for the Glens at Seaview to set up a massive Big Two battle this weekend.

Three points separate the teams and a win for the Blues would take them to the brink of the title, which is why McDonald is desperate to make it a double celebration this week.

"We are in the business end of our season, three points behind Linfield with three games to play," said McDonald.

"I'll be honest, our next league game against Linfield next Saturday does take preference.

"Some people might say nothing and leave others to believe it, but I won't do that.

"And I would see that game as a winner-takes-all."

So far, in six meetings between the Belfast rivals, Linfield have the better of the Setanta Cup scrimmages. Indeed the Glens have yet to beat the Blues and have even been in the wrong end of some heavy defeats.

Their record of never managing to qualify from the group stages is also something that McDonald wants to put right and after taking what could turn out to be a priceless point away to St Patrick's Athletic in the opening game - despite leading 2-0 in the closing stages - a home win is now heading the agenda.

"We had a great result in our first game against St Patrick's Athletic, " said McDonald.

"If before the game I'd been asked if I'd take a point I would have, it was the circumstances that I was disappointed in.

"Linfield had a great start winning at home to Derry City and they will want to carry that on.

"I want to win the game, without a doubt. I don't like losing anything so it won't be a case of fulfilling the fixture. We will be endeavouring to win the game.

"Winning at home is important in the Setanta Cup and qualifying for the semi-finals is important to me."

Saturday's match-winning hero Fitzgerald wouldn't even have been on the pitch if it hadn't been for Darren Boyce's withdrawal from the squad, but he justified McDonald's decision to play him by netting probably the most important goals of his Glentoran career.

"I got a call from Darren Boyce at 10 o'clock to say that he'd been up all night with illness and he sounded terrible on the phone," said McDonald.

"I then had to decide who would come in and I felt that Dean Fitzgerald was the best option.

"I am pleased for him because he hasn't had a lot of chances recently. He's been screaming at me for game time. He's worked hard and has done really well for us when he got his chance.

"The value of having a squad is that for whatever reason when someone is missing, there is someone else who wants to come in and do a job for the team."

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