Glentoran and Coleraine shared four goals for the second time this season in the Danske Bank Premiership. In the previous league meeting at the Oval it was the Glens who fought back from a two goal deficit to earn a share of the spoils. This time it was the Bannsiders.
Both sides had early chances with Jamie Glackin firing into the side netting at one end, whilst at the other Darren Murray got on the end of a Marcus Kane cross but headed straight at the keeper.
With just twelve minutes on the clock the Glens edged in front. Chris Johns' hurried clearance hit referee Tony Clarke. The ref was about to blow up but as the ball fell to a Coleraine player he decided to wave play on. Joe Crowe won possession and found Robbie McDaid on the right. Glentoran's top scorer then fed John Herron. His ball into the penalty area was dummied by Darren Murray and McDaid, who had carried on his run, picked up the ball and drove it in at the near post. The goal gave the Glens confidence and as the game progressed both Kane and Pepper had further efforts on the home goal. Coleraine had a half chance through Josh Carson but his 20 yard effort was straight at Marijan Antolovic.
Paul O'Neill linked well with Chris Gallagher but the Glens number six saw his shot deflected over the bar. Glentoran skipper Kane then had a great opportunity to make it 2-nil when set up on the edge of the area by Darren Murray but fired just wide of the post. The visitors did double their lead though on 36 minutes. The hard working Glentoran strikers closed down first McConaghie and then Canning who slipped allowing Paul O'Neill in. O'Neill tried to tee up Murray but with Lowry trying to clear the danger the ball broke back to O'Neill and he netted from close range.
As we approached the interval Carson had another effort on goal, comfortably saved by Antolovic, whilst right on the 45 minutes Johns in the home goal was relieved to see Murray's looping header land on the roof of the net. A third goal at that stage would surely have sealed it, but as the teams emerged for the second half Glentoran were forced to make a substitution with Marcus Kane having to be replaced by Calum Birney.
Half time: Coleraine 0-2 Glentoran
After the break Coleraine changed their shape and went on the attack. Gavin Peers was harshly penalised and a free kick awarded to the Bannsiders about 25 yards from goal when the aggressive Bradley seemed to be the offender! Bradley's poor free kick though hit the Glentoran defensive wall and was cleared. Just three minutes into the second half though Coleraine got a goal back. Glentoran made hard work of clearing the ball and it fell to Aaron Jarvis. His 30-yard strike went like a rocket into the top corner, in off the post, giving Marijan Antolovic no chance.
Chances at both ends followed with Chris Gallagher forcing a save out of Johns with a free kick and then firing another shot over the top. Josh Carson and substitute James McLaughlin were both off target for the home side. With just under 15 minutes remaining Coleraine levelled and again it was Aaron Jarvis with the goal from a corner as he got in front of Joe Crowe to force the ball over the line. Jarvis had another effort on 84 minutes but this time Antolovic was right behind it. Down the other end we went and Darren Murray had a great chance to put the Glens back in front but he fired over when well placed.
In stoppage time Antolovic was again in the firing line as he kept out Ben Doherty but the best chance of all came the way of Navid Nasseri. Driving into the area Nasseri tried to curl the ball around Johns and into the bottom corner. His attempt was blocked though and perhaps if he'd looked up and seen fellow substitute Elvio Van Overbeek he might have squared the ball and Van Overbeek might have had the chance to win the game. 2-2 was probably a fair result though and it means the Glentoran unbeaten run is now extended to eight games.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: Antolovic, Pepper, Kane (c) (Birney 46), Peers, Garrett, Crowe, Herron, Gallagher, McDaid, Murray (Nasseri 85) & O'Neill (Van Overbeek 57).