Newry City 1 Glentoran 2
Glentoran winger Keith Gillespie feels that Saturday’s win at Newry City could prove to be a pivotal moment in the season for the side from east Belfast.
The former Northern Ireland international was in excellent form for Alan McDonald’s men at The Showgrounds as the title holders came back from a goal down to secure a vital three points in what has been a stop-start season so far.
After Emmet Friars had converted a 15th minute penalty, following Johnny Taylor’s infringement in the area, Michael Halliday and Daryl Fordyce came off the bench to get the goals that got the Glens back on track in their title defence.
While it wasn’t anything like a vintage Glentoran performance on the day, Gillespie has been around long enough to know that a battling victory can prove to be as important as outclassing a team on the pitch any day of the week.
He said: “It was just a grind and those are the sort of games that can decide championships at the end of the season.
“We didn’t play particularly well but once Newry scored with the penalty, they basically sat back and it was hard to break them down, but a little bit of patience and good football did the job.
“The second goal was really well worked and it was a good finish.”
It was a case of Glentoran utilising the wealth of talent they have at their disposal in order to overcome a stubborn City rearguard, with the three substitutes, Halliday, Fordyce and Dean Fitzgerald, all making massive contributions to the second half comeback.
With the likes of Gillespie and Gary Hamilton already on the pitch, the Glens’ strength-in-depth swung the match in their favour.
“It’s fantastic for the boys coming on and they changed the game,” added Gillespie.
“Michael popped up with the header and then Deano provided the ball for Daryl to score so it’s nice when substitutes can come off the bench and do that for you. We were just delighted to come away with the points.
“It’s a physical league and I think, on their day, anybody can beat anybody which is a good thing.
“Focusing on ourselves, we haven’t played as well as we know we can but in saying that, we’re only three points behind the leaders.
“I think at some stage in a season, you go through a sticky spell and hopefully this is our sticky spell over.
“We needed something to kick-start our season as there have been too many draws lately. And as I said, three points off the lead going through a sticky spell is fine. We could easily be sitting top of the league with the points we’ve thrown away.
“There are a lot of twists and turns still to come this season, it’s still early days but we’ll take these three points and go home happy. We are facing tough battles every week.”