Belfast Telegraph

Glens will always battle to the finish: Nasseri

Glentoran 2-0 Ballymena United

Navid Nasseri
Navid Nasseri

By Alex Mills

Navid Nasseri believes Glentoran's never-say-die attitude was the key component to their last-gasp victory over gutsy Ballymena United at The Oval.

Even though David Jeffrey's Sky Blues were forced to use a makeshift goalkeeper in midfielder Declan Carville - Jordan Williamson and Ross Glendinning were missing due to suspension and injury, respectively - they held out for 87 minutes against a team that now has the Danske Bank Premiership title firmly in its sights.

It was an unfortunate error from Carville that presented Robbie McDaid with the breakthrough goal, much to the relief of the big home crowd.

Then, deep into injury time, with United - including their keeper - pushing forward in an attempt to salvage the situation, the jet-heeled Nasseri broke from his own half to roll home the second goal.

Sandwiched between those late goals was an ugly brawl involving practically every player on the pitch. When the dust settled, Raymond Crangle dismissed United's Adam Lecky and Glens striker Paul O'Neill.

"After the effort and energy we put into the Linfield game (on Boxing Day), it was vital we got another three points, it shows that this team has a lot of character," said Nasseri. "It was another big win, it's been a good 48 hours for the club.

"We may have left it late, but we always have belief. We have plenty of talent in the squad, the goals can come from anywhere. We just keep believing - we have a never-say-die attitude that will always pay off."

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Nasseri admitted his team never put Carville under any sort of pressure until late on.

He added: "We knew that they had an outfield player in goals, so our aim was to utilise that and get off a few shots, but it didn't really happen.

"We didn't test him as much as we would have liked. We had six changes to the team that beat Linfield because there were a lot of tired legs after that game. But we have a 25-man squad, so everyone is capable of making a contribution."

United boss David Jeffrey stressed he only found out late on Friday night that his club's appeal to have Williamson's Boxing Day red card reversed was turned down.

"It was cruel way to lose, but I can't blame Declan because I thought his handling was great," said Jeffrey.

"He helped us out because we hadn't a fit goalkeeper at the club. We lodged an appeal after Jordan was sent off on Boxing Day but were then informed late on Friday night that it was dismissed. It must have been the quickest appeals hearing in the history of Irish League football."

GLENTORAN: X Antolovic, Kane, Birney, Gallagher, Herron (Stewart, 59 mins (Van Overbeek, 74 mins)), Murray (Nasseri, 59 mins), McDaid, McClean, Pepper, Crowe, O'Neill. Unused subs: Morris, Garrett, Frazer, Plum.

BALLYMENA: Carville, Friel, McCullough, Burns, McGrory, Ervin, Lecky, Millar, Glendinning, Kelly, Lavery. Unused subs: T Kane, Addis, Whiteside, Mayse, McGinty, Knowles, K Kane.

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast).

Man of the match: Chris Gallagher.

Match rating: 7/10

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