Cliftonville sucker punch has Ronnie McFall reeling

Glentoran manager Ronnie McFall.' Mandatory Credit: Stephen Hamilton /Inpho
Glentoran manager Ronnie McFall.' Mandatory Credit: Stephen Hamilton /Inpho

Glentoran boss Ronnie McFall admitted he felt his team had their pockets in their Danske Bank Premiership opener at the Oval on Saturday.

The East Belfast boys battled bravely until 18 minutes from time, clinging manfully to a first half John McGuigan goal, when they finally caved in.

Joe Gormley sent the Red Army into raptures before Jay Donnelly completed the job deep into injury time. Suddenly, the Reds were away up the road with three unexpected points.

“The boys put in a decent shift, but when they scored so late on, there was no way back for us after that,” said McFall, who was joined in the dugout for the first time by his new management team, former Glentoran favourites Gary Smyth and Paul Leeman.

“I thought we deserved something from the game, but we have only ourselves to blame. We conceded possession instead of clearing our lines and we were made to pay. There were not too many chances for both sides. We know we are short of players – there is no point hiding that fact.

“We’ll keep on looking to see if the right type of player turns up. We need players in before the end of the transfer window, there is now question about that.

“By the time the new management structure was put in place, the market was basically closed to us. Anyone we were interested in had gone.

“We’ve now got to hunt, England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland to get players. That’s the situation we find ourselves in.

“So, our objectives for the season ahead will depend on who we can get in. It’s not easy.

“We have been talking to players who are full-time, so they don’t want to come into a part-time set-up. It’s a big challenge. We’ll see what happens. If they are not there, you can’t manufacture them – that’s just the simple fact. We’ll have to be patient and see what turns up”

As for Cliftonville boss Barry Gray, he admitted his boys had a different attitude in the second half.

He said: “The boys showed a different attitude in the second half – they showed great character. That’s all I ask of them every week. I thought our first goal possibly became a little bit too late.

“But again, credit to them. It would have been easy to take the point and go up the road. They didn’t do that, they really pushed on for the winner.

“It showed what it meant to the players. I was really impressed with our second half showing. We had lots of enforced changes to the team, but every one of the players stepped up to the mark.”