Belfast Telegraph

Allen vows that Glens can blast themselves into Euro shoot-out

By Alex Mills

Curtis Allen believes Glentoran can strike it rich by nailing down a European play-off place.

Last week the east Belfast side produced arguably their best performance of the season to defeat high-flying Ballymena United and clock up their first win in six outings.

It helped breathed new life into the Glens' hopes of nudging into seventh place in the Danske Bank Premiership table, which would guarantee them a slot in the end-of-season Euro qualifier.

Dungannon Swifts are currently in pole position, but should Gary Haveron's boys defeat Carrick Rangers at the Oval tonight, they would jump into that possible money spinning position - for 24 hours at least!

"Beating Carrick would give us a little psychological advantage," said Allen.

"First and foremost we have to make sure we take three points from the game before we go into the split.

"Carrick are fighting for their lives to get out of the relegation play-off position. They almost certainly sent Portadown down to the Championship after their victory last week, so they'll not be short in confidence.

"But it is crucial we are in the shake-up for the European qualifier. We seen what happened last season when we were beaten in the play-off final by Cliftonville - we were so close, and that was after finishing sixth in the table.

"The money it generates is fantastic. You just have to look at the squad of players Crusaders have after regularly qualifying for Europe - they can get their business done early in terms of signing players because they know their budget.

"We are not in that category. Players don't know whether they'll be offered new contracts because of the situation we are in. The manager can't go out to sign anyone because he's unsure of his budget. If we could manage to qualify for Europe, the money would be guaranteed, so it's massively important to everyone that we nail down that seventh place.

"To do that, we have to win every game. Hopefully last week's result will kick-start us for the remaining few games - perhaps that result came just at the right time."

Allen takes great heart and confidence from the showing at the Warden Street Showgrounds and adds: "It was a great performance, it's up there in terms of our best display of the season.

"We were solid at the back, worked hard in the middle and we were clinical in front of goal. Yes, Ballymena were reduced to 10 men for an hour or so, but sometimes it's more difficult to play against a team that has been reduced in numbers because they tend to sit in. It just shows what this team is capable of.

"A lot of questions have been asked of us - and quite rightly so because we've had a poor season. Consistency has been our problem. When we have produced decent performances we haven't backed them up - we've been poor in the next match."

Allen hit a hat-trick at Ballymena - and he insists he's not finished yet.

"I think it's my first hat-trick in two years," he concluded. "That was my 15th of the season. I'm now only five behind my original target. As a striker I set a target of a minimum 20 goals at the start, so hopefully I'll get there."

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