Glentoran crashed out of the League Cup on Wednesday night at a chilly Solitude after throwing away a one goal lead to eventually lose 3-2 to Cliftonville. The early pressure all came from the Glens and it was the away side who opened the scoring with the first real opportunity of the game when ten minutes in a corner eventually made its' way to Jonny Addis who cannoned it into the net from close range.
Twenty minutes later and the white shirts of Glentoran almost scored twice in quick succession after Curtis Allen first fired wide after jinking past a couple of players, before Stephen McAlorum - who was excellent throughout - scuffed a shot across the line only for Flynn to clear before Johnny Smith could get there.
Cliftonville came into the game at this point and Chris Curran fired over from 12 yards, before Davy McDaid found himself one on one with Elliott Morris but the Glens shot-stopper smothered brilliantly. In the lead up to this chance Willie Garrett went down in agony and suffered a cruciate injury, we hope he's back to fitness soon and wish him a speedy recovery.
Ciaran Caldwell - playing against his old club - slotted in beside Addis at the back and was called upon shortly after to block Jay Donnelly's dangerous run.
At half time the general consensus among the away support was that we'd looked more dangerous than we had all season going forward, but perhaps a little shaky at the back. These fears were to become reality as seven minutes of defensive madness in the Glens' ranks handed Cliftonville a 3-1 lead by the hour mark.
First, a hopeful cross from the left on 54 minutes should've been easily claimed by Morris but the stalwart hesitated and allowed McDaid to ghost in and equalise for Cliftonville. Before the inquest for that horror show had even begun, the Reds went in front. Ryan Catney glided past a limp challenge in midfield, wasn't closed down and had the freedom of Solitude to plant an absolute thunderbolt into the top corner.
The strike cannot be argued with, but the ease with which he was allowed to settle himself and pick his spot was worrying. Just two minutes later and the Glens had conceded yet again, when Jude Winchester's free kick cannoned off Addis and flew into the net. At 3-1 with just half an hour to play it looked like there was no way back, that those frankly embarrassing seven minutes of defending would cost us a game that was there for the taking. However, with 65 minutes played Glentoran pulled one back.
Fra McCaffery played Jim O'Hanlon in behind the excellent Levi Ives and the young winger found Allen who hammered home to give the east Belfast men hope. Unfortunately though, Allen would soon become the villain as five minutes later - with the Glens really pushing for an equaliser - he got a very stupid second yellow card.
A long ball was missed by Flynn and Allen was in, lobbed Devlin and started to celebrate making the game 3-3... but his Superman impression fooled nobody and Ross Dunlop correctly gave him his marching orders after the number nine punched it over Flynn's head before firing past Devlin.
This was the final nail in the coffin for Glentoran who ran out of steam and the last twenty minutes or so petered out with little more than a whimper. Minus the seven minutes of utterly dreadful defending though and that stupid sending off, every Glens player done their job and looked threatening going forward - hopefully a sign of things to come. Up next is the visit of Dungannon Swifts to the Oval on Saturday, kick off 3pm.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.
Glentoran: Morris, Holland, McCullough, Addis, Garrett, McAlorum (capt), Caldwell, McCaffrey, Gordon, Smith & Allen.
Subs: O'Hanlon for Garrett, Cafolla for Smith and Elliott for McCaffrey