Belfast Telegraph

Lurgan Blues test will show what Glentoran are made of: Allen

Glenavon v Glentoran, Danske Bank Premiership: Mourneview Park, Tonight, 7.45pm

By Alex Mills

Curtis Allen believes Glentoran will face their biggest test of the season at Mourneview Park tonight.

Having racked up early wins against Ballinmallard United and Dungannon Swifts, Gary Haveron's boys lost their Danske Bank Premiership 100 per cent record last weekend when they were held to a 1-1 draw by a battling Carrick Rangers side.

Without being disrespectful to those sides, Allen insists free-scoring Glenavon will be 'different gravy', especially on their home patch.

Gary Hamilton's new-look side have netted 15 goals in their three opening matches, which would suggest that Glens' veteran goalkeeper Elliott Morris could be in for a busy night.

"Glenavon have started the season really well," said former Linfield and Coleraine hit-man Allen. "They've been scoring goals for fun.

"Gary Hamilton has been busy in the transfer market over the summer and he has completed some great pieces of business.

"The squad has certainly been strengthened considerably, so it will be a big test for us - it will be our biggest challenge so far.

"I know they have been scoring freely, but we have worked hard on the defensive side of our game in pre-season and I think that has been evident in our opening three performances, conceding only twice."

Allen reckons the Glens should have been approaching the fixture also with a 100 per cent record, adding: "We performed well in our two opening matches, we certainly deserved the six points.

"But our standards dropped slightly last weekend. We huffed and puffed without reaching the level of performance we achieved against Ballinamallard and Dungannon.

"We didn't play to our strengths. Carrick came for a point - you can't fault them for that. When they equalised early in the second half they strung five players across the middle and they really smothered us.

"That's not a complaint because it was up to us to break them down. We reverted to the long ball tactic and that's just not the way we play. We didn't play to our strengths.

"Perhaps, after our first two performances, it was a bit of a wake up call that we needed. We've regrouped and had a chat about it in training, we are now raring to go again."

Glentoran, once a giant of a club, finished a disappointing ninth in the league table last season. It's something that Allen intends to address.

"We must do better, that's the buzz phrase at the club," he added. "Ninth place is not acceptable for a club like Glentoran.

"Everyone knows that - the management, players and the supporters. None of the players are into making predictions, but we must do better. A top six place is the minimum requirement.

"The expectation levels are enormous. We haven't reached the standards required in recent seasons, which wasn't good enough. But we are all pulling together. Everyone is determined to get the club back to where it belongs."

Allen is relishing the prospect of linking up with new signing Robbie McDaid, who has strong Glentoran links as his dad Davy proudly pulled on the shirt in his young days.

McDaid joined Leeds United from Glenavon three years ago, but subsequently moved on to Lincoln City, York City and ended up on loan at Chorley Town before being snapped up by Haveron.

"We've been crying out for a striker for some time," added Allen. "Looking at Robbie, I would say he's the answer.

"Sometimes it takes a bit of time to bed in after a spell in England. I experienced that myself. You have to get used to training at night as well, instead of during the day.

"Hopefully Robbie can hit the ground running. He'll give us options."

• Ballymena United have brought midfielder Jake McNeill back to the Showgrounds after a year with Championship side Knockbreda.

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