Loughgall boss Smith out to stun Glens once again
Loughgall manager Dean Smith is relishing the opportunity to take on Glentoran in the League Cup again, one year on from helping inspire Annagh United to one of the biggest shocks in the history of local football.
Twelve months ago, Smith was coaching the then struggling Championship One outfit Annagh as they defeated the Glens 3-2 in the first round of the competition.
It was a massive upset, and led to the resignation of former Republic of Ireland defender Alan Kernaghan as Glentoran manager.
Gary Haveron replaced the ex-Manchester City and Middlesbrough ace and, having made a promising start to the current campaign, he will be hoping the Oval outfit aren't subject to another stunning Cup loss at Lakeview Park this evening.
Smith will have different ideas but acknowledges it will be a tough task for Bluefin Sport Championship side Loughgall to overcome the men from east Belfast, who are unbeaten in four Danske Bank Premiership games so far this season.
"It was a great result for Annagh a year ago, and to play a part in it was very pleasing," said Smith. "The Annagh players were brilliant and deserved the victory.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it when the draw was made, being up against Glentoran again and playing at home almost exactly 12 months on, but this is a different game. Glentoran have had a fine start to the season and Gary Haveron is doing a good job.
"They have top-flight quality throughout their team and bringing in Robbie McDaid was good business. He will be a real handful for any side.
"For us, the game will be a brilliant test. We haven't started the season the way we would have wanted to but we have a good, honest group of players and a big game like this is great for us.
"I know we will get better as the season progresses, and in many ways the match with Glentoran is a free one for us. We have nothing to lose.
"In matches like this, a lot can depend on who turns up on the night and who is willing to do the ugly stuff."
Smith, whose side have lost two of their opening three league matches, makes the point that while Glentoran have suffered trying times on and off the pitch in recent years, they remain one of the biggest draws.
"It's no secret that the Glens have been through some hard times, but to me Glentoran are still one of the Big Two and are a massive club in local football," added the Loughgall boss. "They have good players and will bring a strong support. Our club is looking forward to welcoming Glentoran and hopefully we give them a difficult match."