Donegal Celtic 0 Glentoran 1
New Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson praised his team’s work-rate and endeavour following last night’s victory over Donegal Celtic, but even the astute north Belfast man knows he’s got a job on his hands to make his team the confident other half of the Big Two once again.
This hard-earned victory over 10-man Celtic — Patterson’s first game in charge — landed the Glens a top-six finish in the Carling Premiership.
In Linfield’s shadow, Patterson will seek to claim a fourth-spot finish in the league and hope that the outcome of the Irish Cup final lands Glentoran back in European competition.
The former Cliftonville boss admitted that, after Celtic’s Kevin Keegan conceded an 18th minute penalty that Richard Gibson saw saved by Robert Robinson before he picked off the rebound to score, this game could have gone either way.
He added: “We were in a precarious position with a one-goal lead and Donegal Celtic forced us to earn everything we got.
“But I am very pleased with the fitness levels and the work-rate of the players and glad now that we can get an opportunity to get to know one another on the training ground.
“I told the players that no man was free because Celtic were down to 10 and I am pleased at how they dealt with it.”
Glentoran certainly looked like a team lacking confidence and guidance but Patterson believes a strong finish to the season is not beyond his men.
“It is evident in recent results under (interim manager) Roy Coyle that the lads are growing in confidence and I aim to build on that,” he said.
“This game was all about winning. We knew we would get a battle from Celtic and we knew we couldn’t play the Glentoran way on a badly cut-up pitch.
“We had to dig deep and show character and that is what we did.
“It is very pleasing to win and I am delighted not only for the players but the supporters and everyone else involved in the club.
“By Glentoran’s standards this has not been a good season but the quality is there and I am absolutely confident that as we progress, things will change for the better.”
Patterson’s tactics were spot on at the start, utilising the physical presence of Kieran Martyn and Gibson to match Celtic’s muscle.
But his double substitution, bringing on strikers Leon Knight and Andrew Waterworth in the 72nd minute, may have shown a concern that Celtic were posing a constant threat.
Indeed, one minute after the pair took the field and Knight tested Robinson with a low shot, Celtic’s Jonny Harkness rattled the Glentoran woodwork with a superb long-range free-kick.
Glens keeper Elliott Morris had to shine on a night when floodlight failure just before kick-off threatened the game.
He was on hand to twice deny Linfield target Ryan Henderson and substitute Eamonn McAllister during a second-half in which Celtic looked like the team with the one-man advantage.
DONEGAL CELTIC: Robinson, McNamee, Harkness, P Bradley, Burns, L Bradley (McAllister, 55), O’Connor, Henderson, P McVeigh, Murray, Keegan.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Nixon, O’Kane, Clarke, Martyn (Knight, 72), Ward, Carson, Murray (Waterworth 72), Gibson, McGovern, Callacher (Boyce 90).
Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon).