Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran fans will forgive recent results if we win at Windsor: Elliott Morris

Elliott Morris.
Elliott Morris.

By Graham Luney

Glentoran legend Elliott Morris is hoping for a repeat of last year's Boxing Day heroics against Linfield at Windsor Park today.

One year ago, the Glens entered the festive derby as huge underdogs but came out on top with a dramatic last gasp 2-1 victory at The Oval.

It was one to savour for the Glentoran faithful who in the weeks before had watched their team struggle.

It's been a similar scenario this term with Ronnie McFall's side without a win since October. On the upside, they haven't lost their last two games with eventful draws against Crusaders and Institute, though Linfield go into the clash in much better form.

Another factor of note is Morris and his team-mates have not played since December 8 due to postponements.

Morris will know more about Boxing Day derbies than anyone else on the pitch having made his Glens debut way back in 2002.

He has been through good times and bad for the club and remains a huge favourite with the fans, who will be desperate to grab another Christmas win over their fiercest rivals.

"It's a massive day. If you get that win on Boxing Day you are almost forgiven for certain things throughout the season," said Morris. "We won last year which was a great result for us.

"Like now we were having a difficult period leading up to it, and those few games beforehand when we didn't get results were almost forgiven because we got such a brilliant win.

"It's a fantastic occasion and it's even better when you win. Form goes out the window on Boxing Day and it is about whoever handles it on the day.

"I think Linfield are an even better team this season than they were last time, which makes it tougher, but I think we are a better team too.

"We are playing well but not getting results, and certain things have gone against us this season. We will go into the game with a positive mindset looking to win."

Morris is one of the most popular figures in Irish League football - a proven top drawer goalkeeper, but away from the pitch he has carried himself with great class over the years and has always been up front about himself and the team. Speaking ahead of the Linfield game, it's clear the 37-year-old hasn't changed.

"When you look at form for the team you have to look at your own form, and I have to be brutually honest - it's been patchy throughout this season," Morris told Cool FM's Bet McLean Football Show.

"If I look back to last season and this season and compare them, it's chalk and cheese to be fair. Last year I was arguably our best player, but this year it's been patchy, and I don't think at 37 you are allowed to have any bad form. Thankfully in the last few weeks I think I have turned the corner slightly."

Morris can expect a busy day at Windsor but has the capabilities to produce an inspirational display. The defence in front of him will need to deliver too, while strikers Curtis Allen and Robbie McDaid, as they showed one year ago, must score when chances arise to give the visitors a chance of another memorable success.

McFall admits preparations for the game have been far from ideal but he insists the players will be ready.

"Obviously I'd rather be taking on Linfield with a full squad to pick from but, as well as Nathan Kerr in his regular place, I have very good, experienced players like (Willie) Garrett, (James) Ferrin and (Marcus) Kane who will allow me to reshuffle the back four in a way that lets us go there confident," he told the club's website.

"We could have done with playing our match at Newry on Friday night but we were in for a very intense session on Saturday and on Monday so everyone will be totally ready and up for this one.

"Boxing Day "Big Two" matches have always been massive occasions and a good result can set up the second half of the season.

"I thought we definitely deserved more than we got out of the first two matches with the Blues this season, but I'm fed up saying that as it's about time we stopped making unforced errors against the better teams and actually started getting wins in these games."

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