Allen not giving up on Glens' Euro dream
Ballymena United 2 Glentoran 4
Curtis Allen believes that Glentoran's experience of the Danske Bank Premiership play-offs can breathe new life into The Oval side's miserable season.
The east Belfast men are condemned to the bottom six but could still secure European football via the play-offs if they can finish seventh in the league.
Allen's hat-trick and Steven Gordon's goal against Ballymena United helped keep the Glens on track for that target, and having reached the play-off final last season, the striker knows how big a lifeline they could be at the end of a forgettable campaign.
"There's still a glimmer of hope of Europe," said Allen.
"We weren't great last year but we got to the final and maybe should have won it so while there's hope there we'll keep striving to get into that seventh place.
"It's a big relief to see the hard work paying off with a great result but it will mean nothing if we don't go to Carrick in our next game and get three points.
"We played well and created more chances than we have been doing. I think having two up front helped because it brought a bit more support for me.
"It's tough being up front on my own at times - I've adapted to it and I work hard but ultimately I need the ball in the box to score, that's what I'm about.
"Results like this could start a wee run and all you can do is put yourself in that position.
"We have the capabilities. We shouldn't be where we are -we're a much better squad than that - but we just haven't been consistent enough."
Goals from Johnny Flynn and Conor McCloskey weren't enough to prevent defeat for Ballymena, while Cathair Friel's first-half dismissal poses another problem for manager David Jeffrey ahead of a crunch week in which United face fellow play-off contenders Coleraine and Cliftonville.
"The squad is going to be tested and stretched over the next number of games," said Jeffrey.
"We have massive games this week but they are great games to look forward to.
"These are the games you want to be involved in - you want to test yourself as a coach and manager and the players want to test themselves as well.
"Losing to Glentoran was a setback and a frustration but you have to keep it in context."
BALLYMENA: Allen, Kerr, Owens, Flynn, Millar, Kane, Thompson (Jenkins, 82 mins), Faulkner (McCaffrey, 81 mins), McKinney, Braniff (McCloskey, 64 mins), Friel. Unused subs: Glendinning, Loughran.
GLENTORAN: Morris, McAuley, Magee, Ferrin, Redman, Kane (Smith, 80 mins), Addis, Gordon, Delaney (Lavery, 71 mins), Novo, Allen (O'Flynn, 80 mins). Unused subs: Birney, Jallow.
Referee: Shane Andrews (Comber)