Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran are on the rise again, says Morris

Glentoran 0 Coleraine 0

By Alex Mills

Elliott Morris believes Glentoran are on the way back.

Although Gary Haveron's boys were kicking themselves at not claiming all three points against high-flying Coleraine at the Oval on Saturday, the long-serving goalkeeper reckons there better days up ahead.

John McGuigan will have nightmares after fluffing his 93rd minute penalty kick. It was the final piece of action - one that could have inflicted a first defeat of the season on the Bannsiders - but he lost his footing at the crucial moment and ballooned his strike high over the bar, providing a dramatic ending to an intriguing contest.

That said, the first half was poor. Josh Carson's 20th minute dismissal, following a horrible challenge on Marcus Kane, sent the pendulum swinging in Glentoran's direction - but they failed to make it count.

Both sides displayed all their attacking qualities after the restart and, only for the brilliance of Morris and his opposite number Chris Johns, it really could have been raining goals.

Morris refused to point the finger at McGuigan after his howler deprived the East Belfast boys of all three points.

"There was a bit of doom and gloom in the changing room," he said. "John was naturally distraught, but it's a team game. We'll take the point and get on with it. We are going in the right direction, we are taking it game by game.

"There had to be a different mentality. Finishing ninth last season was abysmal. We were getting slaughtered by everyone - and probably rightly so. Now I think we are answering the critics who were giving us grief. We had to be better and we are getting there.

"This club needs to be in a better position than ninth in the table. Everyone realises that. We are targeting top six. That's the minimum requirement.

"Gary (Haveron) has brought in a lot of young, hungry players, who don't want to finish ninth in the table. I certainly don't want to finish ninth like last season. We are all hungry and we are all determined to get his club back to where it belongs.

"I know where it belongs. Everyone knows where Glentoran should be in this league. It's going to take a bit of time, but we are taking small steps to getting there."

Morris produced a number of magical saves in the second half - one in particular from Ian Parkhill was top drawer, getting a finger tip to a fierce drive to divert over the crossbar.

"Even with 10 men, Coleraine proved they are a decent team," he added. "They created a few chances in the second half. I had to make a few saves and Nathan (Kerr) had to clear one off the line. Their goalkeeper also made a few good saves, especially the one from (Robbie) McDaid.

"Personally, I'm buzzing after keeping a clean sheet. But when you take into account we played against 10 men for so long, we are disappointed at not taking all three points."

Although Coleraine surrendered their unblemished record, they still remain unbeaten. Manager Oran Kearney saluted his boys for digging for 70 minutes with only 10 men.

"This result was as good as a victory," he beamed. "To be honest, I would rank that performance as one of our best of the season. Although we didn't take all three points, I thought attitude, the grit, the determination and the resilience we showed were fantastic.

"That's what you need in this league and it augurs well. If we can do that week in week out, we'll give ourselves a chance of winning games."

Kearney admitted he blew a sight of relief when McGuigan, who slipped on his run up, blasted his spot kick wayward.

"You think your luck is not in when you play 70 minutes with 10 men and then a penalty is awarded well in to injury time," he added. "I felt the run we have been on, with hand on heart, I half-expected Chris to save it. I certainly didn't expect McGuigan to fluff it the way he did. It was a bit a luck that we deserved."

Kearney admitted he had no complaints with Carson's dismissal, adding: "Yes, it was a red card. It was a bit reckless from Josh and I've spoken to him about it. He is not a nasty player."

Haveron insisted his boys deserved to win the game - and will have a new penalty taker next time.

"John was distraught and so he should have been," rapped Haveron. "I said to him if he wants to take responsibility, he as to make it count. I don't want to be too hard on him.

"Overall, we deserved the points on our second half performance."

GLENTORAN: Morris, Kane (Gordon, 46 mins), Birney, Addis, Allen, Kelly (Knowles, 72 mins), McGuigan, McMullan (McNicholl, 78 mins), Kerr, Redman, McDaid Unused subs: Delaney, McCawl.

COLERAINE: Johns, Mullan, Harkin, Ogilby, McCauley, Bradley, Carson, Lyons (Parkhill, 14 mins), O'Donnell, Traynor, McGonigle. Unused subs: Douglas, Kirk, Doherty, Whiteside.

Referee: Keith Kennedy

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