Glentoran will go on a ‘mission impossible’ against Shamrock Rovers in the Setanta Cup first round, second leg tie at the Oval on Monday night, but it’s a game that manager Eddie Patterson ‘wants to win’.
The Glens trail 5-1 from the first leg that was played in horrible conditions at the Tallaght Stadium in Dublin, a fixture that Patterson missed because of illness.
It’s been another miserable tournament for Irish League clubs, with Crusaders, Coleraine and Ballinamallard United all crashing out in the opening round.
And, come 10pm on Monday, there will almost certainly be no local involvement, which casts another huge shadow of doubt on the future of the beleaguered competition.
Robert Bayly, Kieran Waters, Stephen McPhail - the former Leeds United player - Gary McCabe and Simon Madden were all on the mark for Rovers in the first leg, with John McGuigan grabbing Glentoran’s only moment of consolation.
But Patterson intends to send out his troops to repair a bit of the damage.
“We want to win the leg, make no mistake about that,” he said. “By all accounts we didn’t deserve to lose so heavily down there. We were well in the game and actually missed a great chance to go 2-1 ahead.
“Their second goal took a wicked deflection, which looped over Elliott Morris but we shipped three late goals that made the score look totally one-sided. Pride is now at stake, so we’ll be doing our best to win this one.”
Glentoran go in the game on the back of an impressive 3-0 win at Ballinamallard United, a result that clinched their place in the Premiership’s top six.
“I was pleased with the performance,” added Patterson.
“It’s not the easiest of venues to pick up points [at], so it was good to get the result which helped us seal our place in the top six. We need to kick on now in our last six games.”
Patterson is hoping to include defensive duo Calum Birney and Jason Hill in his squad. Both players have been carrying injuries in recent weeks.
Midfielder Mark Clarke will also return following suspension, but Willie Garrett and Marcus Kane will again miss out due to injury.
“We are gradually getting a few players back,” added Patterson. “People must understand we are working with a shadow of the squad we had last season.
“Because of that, the huge demands on the club, in terms off winning silverware, are no longer there. It’s not the Glentoran of old.
“We are working on a restricted budget that can no longer attract players to the club. But on the plus side, there are a number of great kids emerging.
“They’ve been thrown in at the deep end, but certainly haven’t let the club down. Some of them were used in the Setanta Cup first leg in Dublin and I’ll have no hesitation in including them again for the return fixture.”