Glentoran went into this game looking to improve on their disappointing post-split results. They were facing a Coleraine side who hadn't won at home in the Danske Bank Premiership since mid February and had recorded just one win in their previous 10 games (5-2 away at relegated Warrenpoint Town). The Bannsiders were also without their first choice goalkeeper for this encounter, Gareth Deane having picked up an injury in the pre-match warm up with Martin Gallagher coming in to replace him.
Glentoran made just one change to the starting XI from Tuesday evening's 0-0 draw with Larne; Shay McCartan replacing Hrvoje Plum. As usual, the Glens had a large travelling support but they had little to get excited about in the opening 45 minutes at a sun-bathed Ballycastle Road. The only real opportunity of note came on 19 minutes when a long ball forward caught out the home defence and allowed Conor McMenamin a clear run through on goal. Unfortunately he fired just wide of the post. Aaron McCarey was untroubled in the Glentoran goal with the Bannsiders being restricted to a couple of long range efforts from James McLaughlin and Josh Carson; both well off target.
The second half was barely a minute old when Glentoran's recent defensive frailty was once again exposed. The Glens had a throw in on the right near the halfway line but conceded possession from it. Coleraine broke forward and Caolan Marron was adjudged to have fouled Partick Kelly near the by-line. Substitute Matthew Shevlin took the resulting penalty, sending Aaron McCarey the wrong way. Coleraine might have added a second almost immediately when James McLaughin connected with a cross from the right but he fired wide of the target.
Glentoran drew level on 53 minutes. A long ball forward was flicked on by Jay Donnelly. Substitute Ben Cushnie and Josh Carson challenged for the ball but it broke to Michael O'Connor who drilled it low past Gallagher from around 16 yards. The Glens had the chance to go in front 5 minutes later when Marcus Kane's through ball found Bobby Burns. Burns was unlucky to see his effort deflect behind for a corner. From the resulting set piece Marcus Kane saw his header deflect over the crossbar.
Coleraine regained the lead on the hour mark. Matthew Shevlin's cross from the left was initially met by Marcus Kane but his header only found Patrick Kelly and the young striker was allowed too much time to turn on the penalty spot and find Aaron Jarvis. His shot went through the legs of Paddy McClean and under the diving Aaron McCarey.
Glentoran then spurned a couple of chances to draw level for the second time. Michael O'Connor just failed to connect with a dangerous Rhys Marshall cross on 66 minutes and then Conor McMenamin, having easlily got past Lyndon Kane, wasn't able to find Ben Cushnie. Coleraine's decisive third goal arrived on 74 minutes. Aaron McCarey opted to punch out a cross from the right instead of perhaps gathering the ball. It was drilled back into the Glentoran penalty area where Patrick Kelly was able to find an unmarked James McLaughlin on the left corner of the 6-yard box. He drilled the ball across goal and Shevlin had a tap-in at the back post. Shevlin might have went home with the match ball as once again Coleraine cut through the Glentoran defence. Aaron McCarey did well though, denying the Bannsiders number 26 with his feet.
Glentoran got a 93rd minute consolation goal when a long ball forward was flicked on by Rhys Marshall to Jay Donnelly. His short pass found his brother Rory and he shot high into the top right hand corner of the net. So it's just one win in the last five games for the Glens and depending on how things pan out in the next week, third place may not even be secured. There needs to be a significant upturn in performances if European football is to be achieved; something which looked a certainty just a couple of months ago!
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall, Burns, McClean, Marron, Clucas (c) (Kane 52), Powers (Plum 66), McCartan (Cushnie 52), J. Donnelly, O'Connor (R. Donnelly 66) & McMenamin