Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Glens can mix it at the top: Kane

Linfield 1 Glentoran 1

By Alex Mills

Marcus Kane believes Glentoran deserve to be up with the best in the league.

The Glens maintained their unbeaten run under interim boss Ronnie McFall in the Danske Bank Premiership to nudge within touching distance of cementing a top-six place.

It was Kane's blockbuster, a goal of the season contender, that gave the Glens the lead after only two minutes in Saturday's Big Two showdown with Linfield at a freezing Windsor Park.

The midfielder took aim from 20 yards and the ball fizzed into the top corner. It could have been better had Curtis Allen's stunning 30-yard free-kick found the net instead of the crossbar.

Linfield's home hoodoo - they have won only once in the league in south Belfast since December 23 - looked set to continue until Robert Garrett spared their blushes by heading home a second-half equaliser.

Having built up a seven-point lead over Ballymena United, who have played two games fewer, the Glens are now primed to muscle in with the big boys.

"It's now over to Ballymena," said Kane. "We have the points on the board. They have a tough match against Cliftonville in midweek - it's a must-win game for them. I think we deserve to be up in the top six.

"We are now playing with a bit of confidence. We can take points off any of the teams above us."

Kane credits McFall for the team's new-found confidence.

He said: "Ronnie has given us a little bit of belief. We had a poor run of results throughout the season, other than the Boxing Day win over Linfield.

"Ronnie has basically given us a shape which works well for us. We now stop teams, or at least make it difficult for them.

"Anyone who has played under him knows he is honest and up front. He basically wants the squad to believe. As a team, I think we are now more confident - he has given that back to us."

For Blues boss David Healy, it was another frustrating day at the office - and another day of struggling in front of goal, although his boys did produce a spirited second-half showing.

"Our results haven't been what we would have wanted of late and it could have been easy for them to throw in the towel, so credit to them," said the former Northern Ireland striker.

"But they didn't feel sorry for themselves. After the cup defeat by Cliftonville, I got the response I wanted.

"I told the players the only way to be counted at Linfield is to stand up and take responsibility - a lot of them did that. I asked the boys to go out and show me why I picked them.

"We had some good performances in our team. On another day, with a little more luck, we would have won it. But you don't get too much luck when you are having a rocky spell. We were on edge and the crowd were on edge for the first 10 minutes or so.

"Glentoran got a lift with the early goal, but after that initial opening I thought we were by far the better team. We created enough chances to win."

Healy admitted his team's struggles in front of goal is a worry. He added: "Scoring goals has become a problem and it's something we have to address.

"We've tried different avenues, we have tried different players. We've gone about it different ways. Maybe we will get lucky in pre-season by bringing in someone who will freshen us up and get us goals."

Healy admitted he was concerned about his skipper Jamie Mulgrew who was helped off after damaging an ankle. He said: "It didn't look good. Jamie was taken to hospital after the game."

LINFIELD: Moore, Stafford, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Millar, Byrne (Campion, 72 mins), Clarke, Mulgrew (Fallon, 84 mins), Garrett, Quinn. Unused subs: Robinson, Mitchell, Strain.

GLENTORAN: Morris, Kerr, Redman, Gordon, McMahon (Kelly, 74 mins), McGuigan (Davidson, 57 mins), McDaid (O'Hanlon, 66 mins), Allen, Garrett, Addis. Unused subs: Birney, D Nelson.

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)

Man of the match: Kirk Millar

Math rating: 7/10

Belfast Telegraph

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