Ronnie McFall backs Curtis Allen to bag the ton

Curtis Allen celebrates with defender William Garrett after his goal on Saturday.  Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
Curtis Allen celebrates with defender William Garrett after his goal on Saturday. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press

Manager Ronnie McFall reckons it’s only a matter of time before Curtis Allen claims his 100th Glentoran goal!

Following his delightful double against junior outfit Queen’s University in midweek -- which took his tally to 99 in the famous red, green and black shirt -- the 30-year-old was licking his lips ahead of his team’s clash with the Danske Bank Premiership’s newly promoted Institute at the Oval on Saturday.

Unfortunately, for Allen, he was upstage by defensive duo, Ross Redman and Willie Garrett, who grabbed the goals to earn the East Belfast another three points.

Although Michael McCrudden hauled the North West side back into it with an excellent first half strike, Paddy McLaughlin’s boys never appeared capable of salvaging a point.

“Curtis remains on 99 goals for the club, but the century will come, sooner rather than later,” said McFall. “It’s only a matter of time. Boys like that are worth their weight in gold.

“I have to say we were not at our best today. The objective was to get the three points – and we achieved that. I know we can play a lot better. We were off the pace at times and we sat too deep, but our spirit, character and never-say-die attitude and mental strength was there for everyone to see.

“This time last season, we probably wouldn’t have won that game. We’ll get stronger as the season goes on. Certain players are still playing their way into the side...the likes of John Herron, Connor Pepper and Joe Crowe. They’ll be a good asset for us.

“You can see the work rate of the players – the lads are playing with a high intensity...we try to press the opposition all over the park.

“In fairness to Institute, they got the ball down, passed the ball well and played some good football, but they never really threatened. The goal they got was their only shot on target and Elliot (Morris) almost got to it, he got both hands on the ball but just couldn’t keep it out.

“But the good thing is, we are not now relying on Curtis to score the goals – they can come from anywhere on the park. We have others who can make a contribution at that end of the pitch, get us goals at crucial times.”

Institute boss Paddy McLaughlin insists his team’s performance deserved more.

“I don’t think the score line reflected our performance – I thought we were superb, especially in the first half. They (Glentoran) came out of the blocks quickly in the second half and caught us cold from a corner, which was a bit disappointing because we work hard on defending set pieces.

“The winner was a bit messy, the ball ping-ponged about a bit. We got one effort off the line and were hoping for a bit of luck that ball would land at one of our boys to complete the clearance. But Glentoran reacted first. Again, we know that’s the level we are at. You must be sharp in both boxes. Against good sides, if you give them half a chance they’ll punish you.

“We played some nice stuff, but it’s a results-based business. When people lift the newspaper, they’ll see we lost again, but I thought it was a wee bit harsh on our boys.

“I’m confident we can stay in this league. We may lack a bit of experience because we are such a young side – the experience of playing senior football is new to most of our boys.

“If you look how well we played not only at the Oval but in previous games, it will help generate a lot of confidence.

“I’ll keep encouraging the boys to keep playing football – they’ll have enough in the tank to pull us clear of the bottom club. They lads have no fear, they like to get the ball down and play out from the back. The long ball is not our game, we are not here to play rugby. We are here to play football and I’ll encourage them as much as I can to do that.”