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... and wise men from the east come bearing gifts

By Conor Laughlin

Glentoran boss Alan McDonald admitted his pride took a battering on Saturday, but insists he and his players will be in the right frame of mind for Wednesday's crunch Big Two battle with Linfield.

The Glens were their own worst enemies at times during defeat to Cliftonville and McDonald acknowledges there will be no room for error against the Blues.

"We gifted Cliftonville two goals," he said.

"You can't afford to do that against anyone, least of all against the Reds at Solitude.

'"It's a tough place to come to and we made life even more difficult for ourselves with some sloppy play in key areas at crucial times.

"I think Cliftonville deserved it, but I don't know if 4-2 was really a fair scoreline. That maybe makes it look worse than it was for us.

"I don't do sour grapes and it's not fair to single out referees for criticism because I think they're sometimes an easy target for managers, but there was a big decision that was made when Gary Hamilton was brought down by their defender. I don't like to whine about it, but it was a key moment in the game."

The incident in question occurred on 19 minutes when Hamilton and Aaron Smyth tangled in a race for the ball.

Referee Colin Burns awarded a free-kick in Glentoran's favour, although home fans were vehement that Hamilton had committed the initial foul.

Regardless of which player should actually have been penalised, the very fact that the decision went in the Glens' favour should have meant a red card for Smyth.

Instead the Cliftonville defender was given only a caution and stayed on the pitch to turn in a fine individual display.

"The time for a post-mortem is not in the changing room when emotions are running high," added McDonald.

"We'll come in on Monday for a quick get-together to discuss a few things and make preparations for the Linfield game.

"People have been saying to me the match couldn't have got any bigger or more important - well it just did."

Belfast Telegraph


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