Transfer Window Thru League Split
Danske Bank Premier League
We just can’t pull away from Coleraine. Our run in to the league split saw us dropping only seven of a possible thirty points, yet Coleraine have stubbornly kept within six points.
We opened the new year with a run of the mill home win over bottom of the table Ballinamallard. A halftime goal sandwhich wasn’t enough to get the win in an always tough match against Crusaders. Wonderful news for Marcus Kane as he scored on his return from injury in a close match away to Glenavon. Peter McMahon stole all three points for us with a goal as late as they come. Ruairi Croskery was the next hero from last season with good news as he finally grabbed his first (and then second) league goals of the season and broke a 12 match dry spell. Mikhail Kennedy grabbed a rare goal in a tightly fought match against Cliftonville.
Brace machine Philip Comnell struck yet again in a fourth win in a row and our spirits were high heading into a possibly season defining matchup away to Coleraine. The performance didn’t match our high spirits and nothing we did would find a way through the Coleraine defense. They just won’t go away. Croskery continued his resurgence with a brace of his own as we stole a win late away at Institute before sputtering out at home against Ballymena.
The final match before the split saw our third(?) Big Two derby of the season. Linfield surprisingly found themselves in 7th, four points adrift and without hope of getting into the top half no matter the result. My tenure-long undefeated streak and our surprise win of “their” title last season seems to have really had an effect. Their manager got the sack mid season but they’ve been unable to turn it around. We gave them a lovely final feather in the cap that is their season with a dominant win on their ground.
The Run In
The draw hasn’t been kind to us. Three matches away, and arguably the three more difficult ones. Ten points will secure us the title, less if Coleraine slip up. Our visit in the penultimate match could very well be when we can secure the title. Talk about drama.
Our league form gives the impression our entire season has gone better than it really has. A scoreless draw away to a team we should beat isn’t the end of the world, but we were equally as toothless going forward in the replay and went out early.
Northern Ireland Football League Cup
The Carrick Rangers manager described our relationship as a “friendly rivalry” after this match. Our opinions on that may differ slightly. Ten days after being unceremoniously dumped out of one cup by Carrick, we replicated our same useless display and even matched the scoreline. A treble was easily within our reach and we’ve sunk without a fight here.
Petrofac Training Cup
I sent out my most rotated squad of the year and somehow managed to only lose by one goal. Good experience for the younglings, I guess.
They’ve got some talented kids around these parts. At least five players with future first team potential is an intake that I’ll take any time. I’ll skip the detailed introductions for now and we’ll take a look at some of them as they start popping up in the first team.
Odds and Ends
I’m not sure exactly when this happened, although I checked after our repeat of the County Antrim Cup and I wasn’t listed. I guess possible back to back doubles and my oft mentioned undefeated record in the derby makes an impression. Oh, and speaking of Elliot Morris (or, seeing his name, rather), he’s decided to retire at the end of the season and has already accepted a contract to be a goalkeeping coach.
I noticed this when I went to get the league table for the top of this post. Aside from Coleraine hanging around like a very determined mosquito, we’ve totally dominated the league this year and going into the split cannot finish lower than second.
Oh, how quickly time goes by. It seems like just yesterday I was a totally unknown American put in charge of a club missing their glory days. One hundred matches later and the fans of Glentoran FC will remember my name for years to come. Shhhh, please, let me bask in this glory. Eventually we’re going to move and I’ll be wishing I had a shot at any trophy.
Our hopes of a treble or the sought after clean sweep are gone, but a title repeat is still very much on the table. We’ll be hoping that Coleraine will drop a few points before our visit, but I’d really like to get the ten points we need and not have to rely on the competition’s results. Winning the league by more than a single point would really be nice. Tune in next time for a match by match report for our final five games of the season. The title race is in our hands, let’s hope we don’t drop it.