Belfast Telegraph

We owe them: Glentoran boss determined to get one over on Glenavon at the Oval


Man on mission: Glentoran manager Gary Smyth feels his side owe Glenavon tonight
Man on mission: Glentoran manager Gary Smyth feels his side owe Glenavon tonight
Gary Smyth in his Lurgan days
Robbie McDaid

By Steven Beacom

Glentoran manager Gary Smyth loved his time at Glenavon but there will be no divided loyalties when the sides meet at the Oval tonight.

Indeed, ahead of the league meeting, Smyth suggests that the Glens 'owe Glenavon' after previous encounters this season.

In September, there was a 1-1 draw at Mourneview Park when Smyth felt Glentoran should have won and the following month in east Belfast, Glenavon ran out 2-1 winners on a controversial afternoon when FOUR players were sent off. The Glens ended the fixture with eight men after John Herron, Calum Birney and Willie Garrett saw red, while Rhys Marshall was dismissed for the Lurgan Blues.

Smyth was assistant boss to Ronnie McFall on both occasions. Now the main man, he is looking for three points against his old team.

"I really enjoyed my time playing for Glenavon and this will be my first time as manager of Glentoran against them," says Smyth.

"Earlier in the season at Mourneview when it was 1-1, we should have beaten them and in the game at the Oval, when we finished with eight men against 10 and lost 2-1, I still believe we should have got something out of it.

"I think we owe Glenavon and will relish taking them on. Like ourselves they like to play good football so it should be an exciting game."

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Glenavon are fourth in the Danske Bank Premiership while Glentoran are in ninth but the latter enter the Sky Sports televised game in better form.

Gary Hamilton's men have only won once in their last eight league matches in comparison to the Glens, who have won three from five since Smyth took over from McFall. Another victory tonight will move them up to seventh.

In their last outing, Darren Murray and Lukasz Gwiazda scored twice in a 5-0 success at Warrenpoint Town but Robbie McDaid was the best player on the pitch, continuing his excellent recent form.

"Robbie is not only a top player, he is also a really top lad," says Smyth.

"Nothing is a problem to him and his attitude is top-class. He works his socks off week in, week out and always does his best for the team.

"He's good in the air, he's quick and you could play him anywhere. I'm delighted to have him."

With money worries easing, the possibility of investment coming into the club and the Glens starting to come good on the pitch after a tough spell, there is a positivity at the Oval which Smyth does not want to end.

"There is a good atmosphere about the boys. We have a really good bunch of lads and are trying to make it as enjoyable as possible for them," he says.

"The boys have bought in to what we are trying to do and as long as that continues you always have a chance.

"There was a good crowd at our last game at Warrenpoint. It was a cold, wet and windy day but there was a big away support roaring us on. It's fantastic for me as the manager to see them enjoying themselves and I want that to continue for the rest of the season."

For Glenavon's part, Hamilton, once a brilliant player for Glentoran, will demand a reaction from his side after their Irish Cup exit to Dungannon Swifts last Monday night.

Glentoran vs Glenavon

Danske Bank Premiership

The Oval, Tonight, 7.45pm

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