Life couldn’t be sweeter for Glentoran midfielder Stephen Gordon!
The 22 year old, who bagged his seventh goal of the season in the midweek Danske Premiership win over Ballymena United at the Showgrounds, has at last nailed down a first team shirt at the Oval.
His performances for the team he supported as a schoolboy have been exceptional since making his breakthrough in the League Cup earlier this season.
In fact, he has been likened to former Glens favourite Darren Lockhart - and that’s quite a compliment.
Gordon is hoping to keep the momentum going when Gary Hamilton brings his Glenavon side to East Belfast tomorrow.
“When I came back from the loan spell at Ards, I knew I had to work hard to try and force my way into the side,” said Gordon. “At the start, it wasn’t looking good as I wasn’t even in the squad at times. But I knew that Richard Clarke was about to leave the club, so I realised there was going to be an opportunity there.
“I got my chance in a League Cup tie and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve never really had the chance to play in my favourite position in the centre of midfield until this season.
“Even when I was on loan at Ards I was filling at the back. Anyone who knows me will know I’m not a fancy ball player . . . I just get from box to box.I’m feeling good and scoring goals at the moment. Sometimes I try to get forward too much, I’m a little bit naïve.
“But I also try to support the attackers when I can. I’ve been making runs and thankfully the ball is dropping to me in good areas.”
Gordon admits the Glens are desperate to put the record straight against Glenavon -- and just not for controversy that surrounded the last time the teams met when their manager Gary Hamilton was allowed to play even though he was red carded in the previous game.
“We do remember the last game and not because of the Hamilton saga,” added Gordon. “We were 2-0 up and cruising, but we let them back into it. In the end they were comfortable winners (4-2). We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“Even on Tuesday, we gave away a silly goal at Ballymena to let them back into the game. We will have to up our game to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
“Ballymena is always a difficult venue to visit. They were obviously on a high after their Irish Cup win at Cliftonville. But it was important for us to remain on the coat tails of Clifonville, so it was an excellent win.”
Even though Glenavon defeated Dollingstown in the Mid Ulster Cup in midweek, manager Gary Hamilton will be looking for a much improved performance following on from the shock Irish Cup sixth round defeat by Championship One side H&W Welders last weekend.
Mark Patton hit a hat-trick with Fabio O’Brien (2) and Andy McGrory also getting in on the act.
Ciaran Caldwell returns to the Lurgan Blues squad. The former Cliftonville midfielder missed the midweek action due to suspension. Kyle Neill and Conor Dillon, who both hobbled off at Tillysburn on Saturday, should be fit to resume.