Belfast Telegraph

Nobody will want to face Glens in this form: Allen

 

Euro mission: Curtis Allen is congratulated by John Herron following the striker’s stunning finish which helped fire the Glens to a play-off victory at Glenavon
Euro mission: Curtis Allen is congratulated by John Herron following the striker’s stunning finish which helped fire the Glens to a play-off victory at Glenavon

By Alex Mills

Hotshot Curtis Allen believes Glentoran can break their Europa League duck when they face Cliftonville in Saturday's winner-takes-all showdown at Solitude.

The 31-year-old striker was instrumental in the east Belfast team's dramatic semi-final victory against Glenavon at Mourneview Park on Tuesday night, bagging one of the goals in a 4-2 win.

Glentoran, transformed since the arrival of new boss Mick McDermott, are now unbeaten in six games and will travel across town confident of pocketing the big prize, which could earn the club around £200,000.

Although the Glens finished a whopping 21 points behind Glenavon in the Danske Bank Premiership table, they turned in a performance of power, precision and pace, complemented by a fair sprinkling of skill, leaving Gary Hamilton's boys down and out.

But they haven't happy memories of previous Europa League play-off finals - they've lost to Cliftonville twice in the last three years.

"I love the play-offs," admitted Allen. "I've scored in all the semi-finals and the finals we've played in so far. In saying that, we were beaten in the last two (finals), so I'll go without scoring on Saturday if it means we can go on to win the game.

"We've been the in-form team over the past month. Yes, we were playing in the bottom half of the table, but we travelled to Mourneview Park knowing we could win the tie.

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"We'll prepare right for Saturday and we'll also be going to Solitude brimming with confidence. I don't think any team will fancy playing us in the form we are in.

"Obviously, Cliftonville will also be full of confidence after what happened at Solitude on Tuesday night.

"They looked dead and buried against a good Coleraine side, but still managed to turn it around. We'll not worry about the other team, we'll focus on ourselves and prepare right."

Allen believes the introduction of McDermott has breathed new life into the club.

"I think we've got a bit of momentum behind us," he added. "We've played well over the last few weeks. When you get a few good performances behind you, it really helps. Mick has come in and put a real professional touch on things. He had identified jobs he wants people to do - including the front three.

"Robbie (McDaid) and I are working in unfamiliar roles, but it has been paying dividends. Personally, I love the role I'm playing in. It's difficult getting up and down the pitch, but I'm scoring goals and having a few assists as well."

The gutsy Glens came out with all guns blazing after conceding an equaliser just before the interval at Lurgan - and Allen believes that wouldn't have been the case 12 months ago.

He added: "The game against Glenavon was probably a step up for us.

"We went in at half-time a bit down in the dumps after conceding a goal with the last kick of the half. Conor (Pepper) was disappointed to give away a cheap free-kick and they made it count.

"But we came out for the second half, determined to repair the damage. We knew we were well in the game and we knew more chances would come - and they did.

"In the past, we would tend to drop the heads had we conceded the way we did just before the break. And it would be fair to say we would probably have lost the game.

"But this was a really mature performance. It's difficult to single anyone out - it was a great team effort from one to eleven. It was a fantastic game to play in."

And, on his strike that helps his team regain the lead just two minutes after the restart, Allen added: "It was one of the best I've scored, I'll certainly be watching it a few times again."

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