Another frustrating night for Glentoran as a first half Robbie McDaid goal at the Showgrounds wasn't enough as a second half Eoin Bradley equaliser gave Coleraine a share of the spoils this evening to keep us in third place in the Danske Bank Premiership,
The Glens showed three changes from the home match on Tuesday’s match as Caolan Marron returned t0 a three-man back line with Ciaran O'Connor in midfield and new Dad Andrew Mitchell having his first start at centre forward since December. The Donnelly brothers and Hrvoje Plum were rested after a gruelling few weeks. Dale Gorman returned to the bench after a couple of weeks out injured.
The first half followed a similar pattern to Tuesday’s game with a dominant Glentoran taking the game to their opponents and creating a number of decent early chances. We had efforts on goal from Mitchell, Marshall, Kane and McDaid while the frequently fouled O'Connor in particular worried the Coleraine defence with his direct and unpredictable close control and running. Mitchell looked sharp and caused difficulties for the Bannsiders defence while also taking responsibility four corners on free kicks.
For all the Glens’ dominance Coleraine would have taken the lead after 15 minutes had it not been for a great save by Rory Brown from a close range shot by Lyndon Kane
Glentoran continued to control the game despite a totally undeserved booking for Ciaran O’Connor in the 27th minutes when the ball bounced badly while the number 19 was in possession, causing he and Coleraine’s Aaron Canning to unavoidably crash into each other. The Glens were unfortunate also to lose Seanan Clucas who pulled up in the 37th minute to be replaced by the returning Dale Gorman. But again despite the Glens being consistently on top, it took a brilliant point-blank block on the goal line by Paddy McClean from Stephen Lowry to avoid going behind.
3 minutes before the break Glentoran finally took the lead their possession merited. Mitchell put Ciaran O’Connor away and, in a move, reminiscent of last season’s Irish Cup final winner, O’Connor held the ball until he was able to find Robbie McDaid who finished superbly to give the Glens a thoroughly deserved half time lead.
Half Time: Coleraine 0-1 Glentoran
The first significant incident of the second half came on 55 minutes and was a controversial one. A long diagonal ball out of defence from Caolan Marron was superbly nodded on by Marcus Kane to McDaid who cut past 2 defenders to shoot past the keeper. The linesman flagged for offside in what looked unclear but GlensTV highlights later showed to be the correct decision.
The Glens had the next meaningful chance when a cross/shot from Kane went just over. But a minute later Coleraine equalised in a very avoidable manner. Ben Doherty put in a deep cross from the right that – similar to a number of the set pieces we have conceded this season - was left by two central defenders to give Eoin Bradley the easiest of chances to nod past Brown.
McDaid went close again after good work from Jay Donnelly (who had replaced Mitchell after a good shift from Mitch in his first start since December) but the Glens relied on a brilliant tackle from Coalan Marron (outstanding in his more familiar position of centre back) to stop Coleraine and Matthew Shevlin shot well wide with a very bad miss.
The two teams cancelled each other out pretty well for the rest of the match and the only real matchwinning chance came in the final minute when Rory Donnelly (a sub for skipper Marcus Kane) headed over from a Dale Gorman penalty.
So, two very good matches in four days with results that helped neither club to consolidate second place. But Glentoran can be the more disappointed after leading in both matches and having played so well throughout. However we have another chance to go second when we play our game in hand at Solitude on Tuesday night.
Full Time Coleraine 1-1 Glentoran
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: Brown, Marshall, Kane (c) (R. Donnelly 71), McCullough, McClean, Marron, Bigirimana, O’Connor, Clucas (Gorman 37), Mitchell (J. Donnelly 51) & McDaid