With skipper Marcus Kane suspended, Barry Holland led Glentoran out at the Coleraine Showgrounds in the first Europa League qualifying game. Jonny Addis filled the left back spot with Calum Birney partnering Jay Magee in the centre of the defence.
Glentoran started brightly and in the first minute Jonny Smyth was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, giving the visitors a chance to grab an early advantage. Smyth took the free kick himself but failed to beat the Coleraine defensive wall. The home side had their first attempt on goal after 6 minutes with Darren McCauley latching onto a mistake by Ciaran Caldwell before firing high and wide of the target. Jonny Smyth looked to have been put clear on goal shortly afterwards but 'keeper Chris Johns was quickly off his line. The Coleraine custodian's clearance hit Smyth though and looped up into the air. As the young Glentoran striker closed in, Johns was happy to make amends for his error and reclaim possession.
Glentoran had the better of the possession and the chances until midway through the first half, Jonny Addis slicing a shot wide and then Curtis Allen driving an effort into the side netting. Just before the half hour mark though the home side thought they'd gone in front. A rare mistake from Elliott Morris presented Coleraine with a chance. McCauley's shot came back off the bar and then Calum Birney did really well to block the follow up effort. The ball broke to the edge of the area though and Neil McCafferty drilled a 25 yard effort past Morris and into the net. The celebrations were cut short though as Sammy Morrow was adjudged to have been in an offside position and interfering with play.
On 32 minutes Glentoran went in front. A free kick on the left was played to the back post. Fra McCaffrey played it back into the danger area and Calum Birney struck it past Chris Johns. Before halftime the Glens could have doubled their advantage. A great break out of defence saw McCaffrey find Kym Nelson. Nelson played the ball out to Chris Lavery who drove past the centre back and into the area. He was denied though by a last ditch challenge. Halftime: Coleraine 0-1 Glentoran
As expected the home side came out on the attack for the second period and won a corner almost immediately. The ball into the area was met by Ian Parkhill but his header flew just over the crossbar. On 48 minutes Darren McCauley had another chance when he met the ball at the back post but his volley was well off target. Just before the hour mark the glens went 2-nil in front. Nelson put Lavery clear on the left wing. Lavery toyed with Lyndon Kane before driving past him to the byline and putting a superb cross to the back post where Glentoran's 'Player of the Year' Curtis Allen was on hand to nod home.
The Glens were in the driving seat but a mistake by Jay Magee and a subsequent foul, which earned him a yellow card, gave the Bannsiders a free kick 20 yards from goal. Neil McCafferty took it quickly but it was deflected wide of Morris's goal for a corner. On 70 minutes McCauley tried his luck again from range but didn't trouble Elliott Morris.
With just 4 minutes remaining the hosts got back into the game when Darren McCauley got the better of Fra McCaffrey on the left. His cross was headed home from 8 yards out by substitute James McGonigle. Although Coleraine pressed in search of an equaliser Glentoran held on and will now face Cliftonville at Solitude next Tuesday evening with the winner grabbing the final Europa League spot for next season.
Glentoran: Morris, Holland (capt), Addis, Birney, Magee, Caldwell, Nelson, Lavery, McCaffrey, Smyth & Allen.
Subs: McKee for Smyth (66) and McCullough for McCaffrey (88). Unused: Hogg, Gibson & Cafolla.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell