Glentoran bowed out of this season's Europa League at the first hurdle following a 3-0 defeat in Slovakia on Thursday evening.
The Glentoran team which started in Zilina showed just one change from last week's first leg; skipper Stephen McAlorum coming in to replace Jordan Stewart. Afternoon rain brought a drop in temperature and at kick off time conditions suited the Glens but the home side started brightly and McAlorum had to be alert early on to cut out a quickly taken free kick. In the 2nd minute Bojan Letic tested Elliott Morris but the Glens keeper saved easily. On 5 minutes Steven Gordon picked up the ball in the opposition's penalty area. He got to the byline but his cross into the danger area was cleared. A minute later Jaroslav Mihalik broke clear but Calum Birney intervened, putting the ball behind for a corner. MSK almost took the lead from the set piece but Barry Holland cleared the danger. Emest Mabouka then tried his luck from long range but his effort was well off target.
As the rain poured down the home side continued to dominate possession without really creating any clear cut opportunities. MSK's captain, Viktor Pecovsky had a chance on 18 minutes but Jay Magee and then Elliott Morris snuffed out the danger. Glentoran hit MSK on the break moments later with Conor McMenamin, Fra McCaffrey and Steven McCullough combining but the move broke down on the edge of the home side's box. Nikolas Spalek fired an effort just above the angle of post and crossbar before a Stephen McAlorum free kick was headed wide by Marcus Kane. On 24 minutes a cross from the right fell to Marcus Kane about 20 yards from goal. Kane struck the ball well but it was deflected wide for a corner. A dangerous ball into the area from Steven McCullough was met by Steven Gordon but his header was weak and easily collected by Milos Volesak in the MSK goal.
Just after the half hour mark Stephen McAlorum made a great block on the edge of the area to deny Nikolas Spalek. On 34 minutes McAlorum won the ball in midfield and fed Fra McCaffrey. McCaffrey found Conor McMenamin and his shot from 20 yards brought a good save out of Volesak. 5 minutes later a shot from Fra McCaffrey was blocked. The ball fell to McCullough and his ball into the box was headed narrowly wide by Steven Gordon. Matej Jelic put the ball in the net on 41 minutes following a superb save by Elliott Morris but the goal was ruled out as Jelic had been in an offside position when the initial shot came in.
As halftime approached both sides had further opportunities. Nikolas Spalek fired high and wide from 25 yards whilst Steven Gordon got on the end of another McCullough cross but headed straight at the keeper. Right on 45 minutes MSK took the lead. The Glentoran defence had broken up another attack but the Albania referee got in the way just outside the area and the ball was recovered by the home side. It was played through to Matej Jelic who drove it past a helpless Elliott Morris. It was cruel on Glentoran who had fought well throughout the opening period. MSK had another opportunity in first half stoppage time but Nikolas Spalek was thwarted by a superb tackle by Marcus Kane.
The second half started slowly and there were 6 minutes played before we had the first effort on goal. Steven McCullough again found space on the left and his dangerous cross was turned over his own crossbar by Milan Skriniar. Fra McCaffrey took the corner and found Calum Birney at the back post. He nodded the ball down to Marcus Kane but he couldn't keep his shot down. On 55 minutes it was 2-0. Matej Jelic picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and his shot deflected off Jay Magee, giving Elliott Morris no chance. 2 minutes later McCaffrey was found with a quick throw in and he made space on the edge of the area before firing at goal. His shot also took a deflection but unfortunately for Glentoran that touch took the ball inches wide and into the side netting. On 59 minutes Bojan Letic shot wide when well placed. 4 minutes later Laszio Benes picked up a yellow card for a poor tackle on McCullough. From the set piece the ball reached Conor McMenamin but he wasn't able to test the keeper. On 64 minutes a 25 yard strike from Miroslav Kacer was turned around the post by Morris. Just 2 minutes later though MSK Zilina got their third. The home side broke down the left and the tiring Glentoran defence allowed the cross to come into the 6-yard box. Jay Magee challenged Matej Jelic but the big centre forward got to the ball first and beat Morris from close range.
The home side were dominant now with Laszio Benes going close. Calum Birney then made two terrific blocks to prevent MSK making it four. Two of Glentoran's substitutes then combined, Jonny Addis finding Kym Nelson but Nelson was unable to get a shot on goal. On 84 minutes a sublime cross field ball from Addis found McCullough but his cross was turned behind for a corner. From the corner the ball was cleared to Nelson but his shot was well blocked.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.
Highlights of the game are available HERE
Glentoran: Morris, Holland, Kane, Magee, Birney, McAlorum (capt), Gibson, Gordon, McCaffrey, McCullough and McMenamin.
Subs: Nelson for McAlorum (67), Addis for McCaffrey (76) and Garrett for Magee (79).
Unused subs. Hogg, Stewart and O'Hanlon.