Glentoran aiming to stay in the mix for Christmas, admits McFall
Glentoran manager Ronnie McFall has revealed that he always thought Crusaders would come good this season ahead of his side's trip to Seaview tomorrow.
Recent results certainly bear that out. After suffering a shock four league defeats in their opening eight fixtures, the champions have bounced back by winning their last three matches, scoring nine goals in the process.
On Tuesday night the Crues came from behind to overcome Championship outfit Ballinamallard in the BetMcLean League Cup to follow up a 4-1 away success at Institute and 3-2 home triumph against Cliftonville in the Danske Bank Premiership.
The Shore Road men have jumped to third position in the table and, while Stephen Baxter's men are nine points behind leaders Glenavon and eight adrift of Linfield, they are on the up and will expect to beat the Glens to keep the momentum going.
Glentoran are just one point off the Crues with a game in hand but enter the Irish League game of the weekend on the back of their second loss of the season - a 1-0 reverse against Linfield at The Oval.
McFall felt his team should have earned at least a share of the spoils in the Big Two derby. They would have done had they taken their chances.
Now he is preparing to face the Crues in what he believes will be another testing encounter.
"It will be a hard match. I watched their game last Friday night when they beat Cliftonville. Crusaders are a good side, there is no doubt about that. You don't win the league three times out of four without having quality," said McFall, who knows all about winning titles from his time in charge of Portadown and Glentoran during his previous spell as boss at the east Belfast club.
"I think Crusaders were always going to come good. Sometimes when you have been involved in Europe and you come back early it takes you a few matches and a few weeks to fully find your feet.
"For us, we have to regroup after losing to Linfield and prepare correctly for the game."
Despite the disappointment of losing to David Healy's men, McFall was heartened that there was very little between the sides.
"It did give us encouragement. The players can't be faulted for their commitment and effort. They gave everything," he said.
"Our objective is to make sure that come Christmas and the New Year we are up in the mix near the top of the league and then we can go again and make a few more additions to the squad to strengthen certain areas."
McFall could do with having the dangerous Robbie McDaid back as soon as possible. Hamstring victim McDaid has been out for a month.
"We miss Robbie McDaid for his pace and movement up front. That was a big minus for us against Linfield, him not being available, so the sooner he comes back the better," he said.
Another Glentoran attacker, Curtis Allen, will feel he should have netted against the Blues, though if an opportunity arose at Seaview, few would be surprised if he took it and claimed his 100th Glentoran goal.