Two first half goals from Rhys Marshall set the Glens on their way to victory in tonight's Danske Bank Premiership game away to Carrick Rangers. With Shay McCartan injured there was a place in the starting XI for Aaron Wightman. Joe Crowe was also in the side with club captain, Marcus Kane dropping to the bench. Aidan Wilson once again led the side out and the Scottish defender began the game in the right-back slot. Crowe and McCullough occupied the two central defensive positions with James Singleton at left back and Rhys Marshall moving into midfield.
The home side had the chance to exert some early pressure when Bobby Burns conceded a free kick close to the halfway line. The ball was played into the penalty area but not dealt with by the Glentoran defence. Ben Tilney collected it but his shot from a tight angle was well kept out by Aaron McCarey. Carrick were awarded another free kick in the 3rd minute with James Singleton the culprit this time and it was to lead to the opening goal.... but not for the home side! Kyle Cherry's short free kick should have presented a shooting chance for Andy Mitchell but Rhys Marshall intercepted the ball and drove forward into the centre of the field before laying the ball out to Conor McMenamin. McMenamin carried the ball well into the Carrick Rangers' half before hitting a delightful cross-field pass with the outside of his left foot, picking out Joe Crowe on the right-hand side of the area. Crowe then clipped the ball to Rhys Marshall and the man who had started the move, directed his header past Ross Glendinning.
A Glentoran corner might have resulted in a second goal shortly afterward with the home defence only clearing the ball to the edge of the 'D'. Terry Devlin caught it beautifully on the volley but unfortunately his effort was wide of the post. The Glens did double their lead though on 13 minutes. Joe Crowe picked out Conor McMenamin on the right and he cut inside Lloyd Anderson before finding Jay Donnelly in the area. Donnelly's shot from around the penalty spot was well blocked by Mark Surgenor but the ball broke to Rhys Marshall who slid it past Ross Glendinning to make it 2-nil.
On 17 minutes we almost had number three! Terry Devlin's sublime pass set Conor McMenamin away but Glendinning did well to save with his feet. With 30 minutes on the clock Joe Crowe won possession in midfield and passed to Rhys Marshall. He in turn found Conor McMenamin but his shot flashed wide of the post.
Halftime: Carrick Rangers 0-2 Glentoran
Just five minutes into the second half it was 3-nil. Singleton, Burns and McMenamin were all involved before the ball was played to Aidan Wilson on the right. He tried to pick out Jay Donnelly in the box but the ball deflected off a Carrick defender and straight into the path of James Singleton who slotted home from around eight yards. Carrick Rangers might have pulled a goal back a couple of minutes later but a 25-yard effort from Nedas Maciulaitis was just over. The home side did pull a goal back on the hour mark. A foul by Singleton on David Cushley near the corner flag resulted in a yellow card for the Glentoran defender. The ball was played into the area by Andy Mitchell and Lloyd Anderson was on hand to turn it past Aaron McCarey.
The next goal was going to be critical and Carrick Rangers spurned a couple of chance to make it 3-2. Ben Tinley shot wide on 75 minutes and then only a great interception by James Singleton prevented another chance. In added time though, Glentoran made the game safe. Again Singleton was involved, this time winning the ball in his own half before sending substitute Danny Purkis clear. Purkis collected the ball about five yards inside the Carrick half before sprinting forward and calmly slotting past Ross Glendinning.
Number five arrived in the 93rd minute. Harry Murphy's long throw-in found Singleton. He appeared to be fouled but with Aaron Wightman collecting the ball the referee Lee Tavinder allowed play to continue. Wightman found Junior who drove towards the by-line before cutting the ball back for Bobby Burns to net from close range. Burns, who once again showed a tremendous work rate, certainly deserved a goal. The margin of victory perhaps flattered the Glens but most importantly, the three points were secured.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Wilson (c), Singleton, McCullough (Murphy 90+1), Crowe (Kane 76), Burns, Marshall, Devlin, J. Donnelly (Junior 76), McMenamin (Purkis 76) & Wightman