Glentoran’s difficult start to the league season continued today with a 2-1 defeat at Coleraine Showground, to extend our 7-year run without a win at the venue. However, the disappointing result was overshadowed by a terrible injury to recent signing Bobby Burns who was stretchered off and taken to hospital after a horror tackle from Coleraine’s James McLaughlin after an hour.
There were five changes from the starting line-up from last week. One was enforced after Marcus Kane was replaced by Keith Cowan after he was declared unfit ,while Mick McDermott went back to cup winning front three with Paul O’Neill and the fit again Rory Donnelly replacing Andrew Mitchell and Jamie McDonagh who were on the bench while Cricky Gallagher and Dale Gorman made way for Seanan Clucas (stand in captain today) and Ciaran O’Connor.
The Glens started exactly as we finished last week’s match with Glenavon, after four minutes conceding a headed goal by a defender, direct from a free kick. This time Coleraine skipper Stephen O’Donnell had a free header from a Ben Doherty free kick. That heralded a half in which there were few real chances for either team but a clear domination of possession by Coleraine. The Glens’ most effective attack in the opening quarter came when Ciaran O’Connor went on a wonderful run down the left that could only be ended by a cynical foul on the edge of the box by Evan Tweed. The free kick was hit straight into the defensive wall by Rory Donnelly. Coleraine chances were snuffed out by a brilliant block by Bobby Burns and a great leap by Dayle Coleing from an extremely dangerous, deep cross.
Dangerous attacks from either team remained thin on the ground for the rest of the half apart from a McDaid header from a great Bobby Burns free tick and an awful miss from Stephen Lowry from a Nixon cross at the other end. However, Lowry redeemed himself in injury time with a slide rule pass to Ben Doherty after dispossessing a Glens defender. Doherty dashed between two defenders to give Dayle Coleing (who had done very well to get out to him so quickly) no chance as he slotted home.
Half Time: Coleraine 2-0 Glentoran
The first 12 minutes of the second half were relatively uneventful with just a diving save by Coleing from James McLaughlin and a decent long range effort from Seanan Clucas to excite the small crowd in attendance, The first Glens substitution came on the hour when Mick McDermott sent on Jamie McDonagh in place of Paul O’Neill to add more width to the front line.
Jamie had little chance to influence the game when Bobby Burns – arguably our strongest performer on the day – sustained his gut-wrenching injury. McLaughlin was chasing the ball after a midfield tussle with Gael Bigirimana. The ball was there to be won but the Coleraine forward lunged at it and went to ground, scything through the approaching Burns in the process. Bobby immediately landed in a heap and the referee had no hesitation in showing McLaughlin an immediate and totally deserved straight red card. But that will be little consolation to our 21-year old, now facing a long layoff due solely to a rash, dangerous and completely unnecessary challenge. Get well soon Bobby.
Bobby was replaced at left back by Paddy McClean, making his first appearance since a pre-season injury. Five minutes later Jay Donnelly was sent on to replace Ciaran O’Connor for the last 20 minutes.
There was a lot of effort following these changes and it looked like a breakthrough was imminent on 88 minutes when Jay rose to head home a pinpoint cross from Caolan Marron to half the deficit and score his first goal in a Glentoran shirt. But despite eight minutes injury time, the equaliser never came.
So the slow start continues with two big games in the next week, away to Cliftonville on Tuesday in the County Antrim Shield semi-final, and then on Saturday evening we entertain joint league leaders Larne who bring their 100% record to the Oval. Two strong performances this week will reassure the support that this is simply a new squad bedding in after a busy close season.
Full Time: Coleraine 2-1 Glentoran
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: Coleing, Marron, Burns (McClean 630, Cowan, McCullough, Bigirimana, Clucas, O’Connor (J. Donnelly 70), O’Neill (McDonagh 60), R. Donnelly, McDaid