Glentoran: League points the priority for Gary Smyth going into Institute test
Life from his heightened position within the Glentoran hierarchy failed to offer recently-appointed boss Gary Smyth a significantly improved view of events on the pitch during Saturday's Irish Cup exit.
However, Smyth will still hit the road for the second successive fixture as Glens boss looking towards a bright future.
The worst run of Irish League results in the history of the storied Belfast club led to Ronnie McFall’s resignation days before Glentoran met Crusaders in knockout action.
Smyth stepped forward from his previous role as assistant manager to handle senior affairs at the Oval outfit, with supporters hoping he - alongside Paul Leeman following promotion to the number two spot - can steer a return to the glory days both enjoyed as past players.
“We need to get out of this horrible run of league results,” said Smyth following the Crusaders defeat. “So, there’s no bigger game for us than the next one, away to Institute.
“Institute sit above us in the league, along with Warrenpoint Town and, no disrespect, but you probably would have laughed at the start of the season if someone had said that would be the case.
“But that’s the reality, the league table doesn’t lie so we need to start picking up points.
“We’ve played Institute twice already this season and beat them then should have won in the other game having led three times but they scored two cracking goals.
“I think the stats showed two shots on target for Institute but they came away scoring three due to an own goal.
“But we cannot start feeling sorry for ourselves, I saw an hour or so which made us really proud in terms of competing against a really strong Crusaders team.
“With that effort we set the bar and you are not going to be playing Crusaders every week.
“The boys gave everything, which is what we asked, we had guys going down with cramp towards the end.
“If they give that effort every week we will not be too far away.”
“Everyone knows we need to strengthen the squad.
“I thought Lukas Gwiazda was outstanding for his debut, although, like others, he probably did run out of the steam.
“Darren Murray had a really good debut and it can only be a plus for Glentoran once he gets fit.”
Institute prepare to host troubled Glentoran bolstered by Joe McCready’s decision to sign an 18-month contract extension.
Four goals in five league games across December served as evidence of McCready’s value to Institute - with his front partnership with transfer target Michael McCrudden key to the rise of the promoted outfit.
“Joe signed a new contract extension at the weekend and it has been well-earned, as he has had to work his socks off to get it,” said Institute boss Paddy McLaughlin. “There were doubts about him in pre-season and in the early part of the season, in terms of how he was going to fit with the way we play, but we made a few adjustments to the team recently and Joe has played a massive part in our recent success, so it was only right that was rewarded with a contract extension.
“The league is our priority and we have known that from day one.
“Cups are a nice distraction and every round you get through is a bonus because you are prioritising the league and trying to stay in it.
“That means a lot more to us than a cup run, yes, we are disappointed after Saturday’s defeat but we’ll dust ourselves down as the league games are more important.”
Institute meet Glentoran with Mark Scoltock and Ronan Doherty ruled out but McCrudden expected back in the panel.
“Probably the intensity of our games recently has taken its toil on a lot of the players,” said McLaughlin. “But obviously after doing his hamstring he (Ronan) is going to be out for a few weeks.”