Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

'No need to panic,' but Millar is 'gutted'

Portadown may have condemned Glentoran to their first defeat of the season and Paul Millar's first in the league since taking over from Roy Coyle last February, but there are no signs of panic on Mersey Street just yet.

A frantic final few minutes at the Oval on Saturday saw the Glens go from 2-1 up - thanks to Gary Hamilton's double against his old club - to 3-2 down and out, after Gary McCutcheon scored his second and Allan Smart added the winner five minutes into injury time.

The reversal cut the Glens lead at the top to just two points ahead of fierce rivals Linfield and the Ports lie just another point behind them in third.

Millar was seething after the game, with the referee Mark Courtney and the Glens defence taking the brunt of the criticism € the season of goodwill to all men didn't stretch to the Oval it seems.

However, when the dust settled the rookie boss didn't really look like a man whose side had just been pick-pocketed in the dying minutes.

Weighing things up, there shouldn't be any reason for the nerves to be jangling just yet.

After last season's Oval nightmare, one of the worst in recent memory for the club, it didn't take much for this year to be an improvement.

But having had a great start to the campaign the expectation levels are high in east Belfast and fans are demanding more success to add to the CIS Cup, which was picked up after beating Cliftonville in the final last month.

Millar, though, is still happy with the way things are going, despite having both Davy Jeffrey and Ronnie McFall breathing heavily down his neck as we enter th enew year.

"I am gutted that we lost € the referee cost us, as did our defending, but it isn't the end of the world," he said.

"We have to pick ourselves up for what is going to be another tough game against Ballymena (tomorrow night) and start on another run again.

"We have lost points this season before and came back well and I have no doubt that we will do it again.

"We have gone a long time without losing in the league and it is a new experience for us, but we have players here who know what it takes to go on a title run.

"It is all about getting our heads up and working hard again to get back on track.

"It is a set-back, but we are still in the driving seat. We are two points ahead and there is a lot of football to be played yet.

"We can't be too disheartened. If someone had said to me at the start of the season that we would come out of December two points ahead at the top of the league and already won the first trophy of the season, then I definitely would have been happy enough with that."

Now the pressure is on for the Glens to bounce back and if they are to do that, a lit bit of tightening up at the back will have to be done.

The back four were at fault for Portadown's two last-gasp goals as they failed to deal with crosses from either flank and frankly looked a pale shadow of the defence that had rarely conceded so far this season.

"I can't have a go at the team for their performance because I think for 80 or so minutes they played really well," said Millar.

"But I had to criticise the defence and I told them that they can't perform for 89 minutes and then switch off. It was a lack of concentration on their part."

No such problems at the other end, with Hamilton again proving to be the talisman for Glentoran.

Two goals showed why at the minute he is the best striker in the country and he perhaps proved a point to his old boss with that double salvo.

However, Millar believes it was nothing personal.

"He has been proving people wrong all season," commented the boss. "Sometimes the strikers get a bit of stick for not doing it but he has done his job, he scored two goals. He deserves credit for that and it is the defence who have to shoulder the blame on this occasion."

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