Glentoran FC

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Cliftonville 2-0 Glentoran

Sat, 20/04/2024 - 22:41

This game epitomised the 2023-2024 season as Glentoran condemned themselves to a 5th place finish with this lifeless performance at Solitude this afternoon and Cliftonville returned to winning ways without any meaningful challenge from the visitors. The season was also reflected in the lowest travelling Glentoran support in many years at a fixture that generally has a big appeal.

With David Fisher and James Singleton still injured and Jay Donnelly suspended, Declan Devine brought Niall McGinn and Daire O’Connor back into the attack and Seanan Clucas into midfield. Harry Murphy kept his place in central defence after a good performance v Larne on Tuesday night.

The first meaningful attack came from the Reds but Paddy McClean did well to head away a decent cross. Then virtually immediately afterwards – just 8 minutes into the game – Bobby Burns was sent on to replace Daire O’Connor who had fallen badly on his arm.

Then on 11 minutes Cliftonville took the lead. Shea Kearney won possession on the right flank and his cross passed right through the Glentoran box to Stephen Mallon who was easily able to control the ball, take a step and easily convert. No great surprise but the first shot of the game and still plenty of time for the Glens to react.

The Glens had a couple of efforts on goal from Shay McCartan, one deflected over and one just wide, but it was Aaron McCarey who was called on in the later stages of the half to make good saves from Ronan Hale and Ben Wilson. Our best effort of the half was in injury time when Paddy McClean pulled a very good save from Nathan Gartside.

Half Time: Cliftonville 1-0 Glentoran

Declan Devine introduced current NI U17 international Theo McToal at right back immediately after the break in place of Rhys Marshall. It would be the 17-year old’s second first team appearance and he settled very well and quickly..

Ben Wilson went close twice early in the half, the second well saved by McCarey and cleared by McClean but the Reds’ second came on (twice) while Wilson also shot wide from a very scoreable position. But the killer goal came for Cliftonville on 57 minutes. Frankly, the goal came as the result of a ridiculous penalty inexplicably awarded for handball. A Rory Hale free kick struck Seanan Clucas on the upper arm as he jumped with the defensive wall. There was clearly no intent and the upper arm was tight to his body, but the referee didn’t hesitate to award a penalty converted by Ronan Hale.

With so many senior players having no impact on the game, the manager took the opportunity to add the youth of Kirk McLaughlin and Charlie Lindsay along with the experience of skipper Marcus Kane shortly after the goal. The boys had some impact as McLaughlin had a decent shot hit the crossbar and a deep corner from Lindsay was nearly converted by McClean.

But 2-0 it finished, thanks to another save by McCarey from Wilson.

As this report started, this performance could have easily summed up this season as a whole with far too many players missing, leaving a couple of senior pros and young players to try to make something out of the game. Totally unfair on the Glens fans who crossed the town this afternoon and also unfair on the manager and club. We have Crusaders at home next week then (hopefully) 2 playoff games. We have spurned the chance of a home draw if we make the final but it still falls to many of these same players to demonstrate they still have the spirit to match their ability by stepping up to give us all a positive end to a most forgettable season.

Full Time: Cliftonville 2-0 Glentoran

Photography by PACEMAKER

Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall (McToal 46), Russell, McClean, Murphy, Sule(c), Clucas (Kane 66), O’Connor (Burns 9), McGinn (McLaughlin 66), McCartan (Lindsay 66), Junior.

Subs (Not used): Webber, McCullough