New Glentoran boss Rodney McAree starts out with trip to Newry City

Rodney McAree replaced Mick McDermott as manager of Glentoran
Rodney McAree replaced Mick McDermott as manager of Glentoran

NI Premier League: Newry City v Glentoran (tonight, the Showgrounds, 7.45pm)

By Andy Watters

THE league’s two most out-of-form sides meet at the Showgrounds tonight. Hosts Newry have lost their last five (four in the league and to H&W Welders in the Irish Cup) while Glentoran are on a seven-game losing streak that includes five in the league as well as League Cup and Irish Cup exits.

The last of those seven was Saturday’s 1-0 reverse against Larne at the Oval and that proved to be the end of the road for manager Mick McDermott who has been replaced by former Dungannon and Coleraine manager Rodney McAree who takes the reins for the first time tonight.

The Glentoran faithful will expect McAree’s appointment to inspire better from their players while Newry boss Darren Mullen will hope to turn the corner and get some points on the board.

The county Down outfit’s recent slump in form means there are only four points between them and second-from-bottom Dungannon Swifts. They have a game in hand and will mean to turn it into three points tonight.

“It’s an important game for both clubs for different reasons,” said Mullen.

“We need a win to fight for survival, they need a win to get out of the rut they’ve been in. So it’s an important game but they’re all important, I don’t class this as any more important than the last one or the next one.

“I’m sure most people will be expecting Rodney to come in and get a win in his first game; we have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

An early Conor McMenamin goal earned the Glens a 1-0 lead on their last visit to Newry but the home side’s relentless pressure forced some late chances and they were unlucky not to get a point out of the game.

“Results have been poor but within that there’s been a mixture,” said Mullen.

“Harland and Wolff was a low-point to be honest but since then we’ve been good against Coleraine and really good last week against Crusaders but got nothing for it.

“We know we’re on a bad run and we know we need to get results pretty quickly but we’re playing well and the mood is good.”

Glentoran recently added former Celtic winger Niall McGinn to their squad. The Northern Ireland international made his debut against Larne and will hope for better under his second manager in 10 turbulent days for the East Belfast club.

“They have been under-performing for whatever reason,” said Mullen.

“They’ve a fantastic squad and after the start to the season they had you’d have thought they’d be in a better position. Something obviously isn’t right but we need to make sure that whatever bounce they get under Rodney McAree isn’t at our expense.”

Halfway through the season, Newry – who will be without Lorcan Forde and Jamie Clarke tonight – have a fight on their hands to stay afloat in the top flight. Mullen says his players are up for that fight.

“I have to give them massive credit,” he said.

“We were disappointed to lose to Crusaders but we knew we had played well, a lot better than previous performances. We knew this season was going to be difficult and it’s at times like this that you know who’s up for it and who’s good enough for it.

“We’ll keep battling on and hopefully we can turn performances into results.”