It was a good day for Glentoran in the Danske Bank Premiership. Not only did they secure the 3 points with a 3-nil win to take their unbeaten run to 11 games in the Premiership but results elsewhere were favourable too. The Glens now sit in joint second place in the table, two points behind leaders Cliftonville but with a game in hand.
Both sides had an early chance at the Loughview Leisure Arena. In the opening minute a cross from the left from Seanan Clucas was steered wide of the target by Rory Donnelly whilst seconds later a through ball sent Ewan Kelly clear. Paddy McClean made a great tackle to deny Kelly a shooting opportunity and forcing him wide of the goal before Aaron McCarey gained possession with a follow up save. On 9 minutes a foul on Rhys Marshall brought the Glens a free kick wide on the right. Conor McMenamin swung the ball into the box with Rhys Marshall just failing to get on the end of it.
17 minutes in we had a very poor challenge by Dan Kelly on Joe Crowe; referee Kennedy somewhat surprisingly determining a yellow card was sufficient. Midway through the first half a Glentoran corner, taken by Bobby Burns, was met by Paddy McClean but the big central defender didn't get a clean contact on his header and Aaron Hogg gathered comfortably. 2 minutes later, following a corner to the home side, Ben Tilney let fly from around 25 yards out but was denied by a superb block by Joe Crowe. On the half hour the Glens broke forward with Conor McMenamin finding Jay Donnelly. He passed to btorther Rory who, in turn, fed Rhys Marshall on the right. Marshall delivered an excellent cross into the danger area but Jay Donnelly's touch for one eluded him and the Carrick defence were able to hack the ball clear.
There was another chance for Jay Donnelly on 32 minutes when he tried to race onto an excellent pass forward from Conor McMenamin but Aaron Hogg was quickly out to smother the ball at the striker's feet. 9 minutes from the break a foul on Seanan Clucas brought the Glens a free kick 25 yards from goal. Shay McCartan struck it well but Aaron Hogg made a fine save.
The breakthrough finally came on 39 minutes. Rory Donnelly clipped the ball over the Carrick Rangers back line and this time Jay Donnelly got there ahead of Hogg, lobbing the ball over the home side's keeper and into the net. 3 minutes from halftime Glentoran fashioned out another decent chance. From a free kick near the centre of the field, the ball was played into the Carrick box but Rory Donnelly's powerful header was straight at the keeper. The home side then almost levelled when a corner was cleared to the edge of the Glentoran penalty area. Reece Glendinning caught it perfectly and was unlucky to see his shot strike the outside of the post. In first half stoppage time Conor McMenamin broke clear down the right and put in another dangerous cross. Jay Donnelly was there once more but headed wide of the goal.
Halftime: Carrick Rangers 0-1 Glentoran
There were less than 20 seconds of the second half played when Glentoran doubled their advantage. Paddy McClean played a ball forward from the centre circle towards the 'D' where Shay McCartan got the better of Ben Tilney before firing a shot across keeper Aaron Hogg and into the far corner of the net. Just over a minute later Reece Glendinning again went close with a curling 25-yard effort which went just wide of the far post.
Just past the hour mark the game was virtually killed off when Glentoran grabbed their third. Shay McCartan showed some delightful skill in the middle of the park before playing a great ball to set Rory Donnelly clear on the right. Donnelly took the ball to about 8 yards from the by line before cutting it across goal to give Jay Donnelly the simplest of finishes. On 69 minutes the Glens made a triple substitution and one of those coming off the bench, Robbie McDaid, thought he'd made it 4-nil just a minute after entering the fray. Robbie's initial shot was blocked with the ball spinning high into the air. Robbie out-jumped Aaron Hogg and his header found the back of the net only for referee Kennedy to rule it out for a supposed foul on the keeper. Very harsh!
Things got worse for McDaid a minute later when he was shown a straight red card following a challenge on Kyle Cherry. It looked a similar type of challenge for which Dan Kelly received a yellow in the first half but in what hasn't been a great week for referees in the local game, we had yet more controversy! Robbie McDaid will likely now face a 3-game ban which will include the big Boxing Day fixture.
Glentoran tightened things up for the last quarter of an hour and managed the game out well. Carrick Rangers did come close to grabbing a consolation goal but Dan Kelly's shot struck the woodwork. In the first minute of added time the home side were also reduced to 10 men when Reece Glendinning received a straight red card for kicking Caolan Marron.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall, Marron, McClean (c), Burns, Crowe (McDaid 69), Clucas, McCartan (Garrett 77), R. Donnelly (Jenkins 90+1), McMenamin (Mitchell 69) & J. Donnelly (Smith 69)