Belfast Telegraph

We were mugged: Glentoran boss fumes at slack defending in late defeat to Glenavon

 

Gary Smyth
Gary Smyth

By Alex Mills

Glentoran boss Gary Smyth believes his team were victims of a Mersey Street mugging on Tuesday night.

The east Belfast club appeared to be coasting to three vital Danske Bank Premiership points - which would have propelled them to seventh place in the table - courtesy of a first-half Darren Murray spot-kick.

But with the clock ticking down, Glenavon player-manager Gary Hamilton sprung himself from the substitutes' bench and, with only eight minutes remaining, managed to flick home an equaliser.

Worse was to follow for the Glens. With the final whistle approaching, Conor McCloskey caught the Oval men's defence cold and, after galloping clear, drilled home a dramatic winner.

Little wonder Smyth and his backroom entourage looked shell-shocked as they made their way off at the finish.

"It was a game we never looked like losing - we were comfortable," he said. "I was in total shock at the final whistle because, to me, we were mugged.

"They put us under a bit of pressure in the first half, but we dealt with it well. Our goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson had only one save to make.

"We got our goal at a good time, six or seven minutes before the interval. I thought we totally bossed the second half, which developed into a nothing affair."

Smyth admitted his team's poor defending gifted Glenavon their two goals.

"The ball ping-ponged about a bit for the first one and we were unfortunate the way it broke," he added.

"But our defending left a lot to be desired. We didn't deal with the throw-in and we didn't deal with the bouncing ball.

"I don't know whether Gary (Hamilton) even mis-hit it or not because it trickled into the net.

"We were then caught flat at the back by a clearance from well inside the Glenavon half. They were two shocking goals to concede.

"If we want to be better, move on and move up the table, we need to be a lot better than that. Had we won that match 1-0, people would have gone away and thought it was comfortable."

The result means Glentoran remain in ninth place - still two places short of a possible European qualifying slot.

• The Eventsec North West Senior Cup final between Limavady United and Institute has been re-arranged for Saturday, March 2 at Limavady Showgrounds (3pm).

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