Glentoran FC

The Official website of Glentoran Football Club / Pride of East Belfast 



Glenavon 2-4 Glentoran

Sat, 26/02/2022 - 20:30

Glentoran twice came from behind to take all 3 points at Mourneview Park this afternoon and return to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership. It was a clash which brought back memories of a game at the same venue during the 1995-96 season when Glentoran scored late goals to sink the Lurgan Blues. On that occasion Glen Little was the hero for the East Belfast team. Today it was Conor McMenamin whose hattrick saw him take his tally to 17 goals this season.

There have been three hattricks in the Danske Bank Premiership this season. Conor McMenamin has got two of them. Jay Donnelly the other.

Glentoran were without the injured Sean Murray for this game whilst Willie Garrett came into central defence in place of the suspended Paddy McClean. With Marcus Kane also missing, Seanan Clucas wore the captain's armband. There was almost the perfect start for Glentoran. In just the second minute a long ball forward by Caolan Marron was collected by Jay Donnelly. His cross found Robbie McDaid and the Glens number 11 was really unlucky to see his header flash inches past the post. Not long afterwards an overhit cross from McMenamin eventually fell to Shay McCartan but his low drive was just beyond the far post.

The home side, playing with a strong wind at their backs, had the chance to go in front on 7 minutes when Willie Garrett was penalised for a handball outside the area. Peter Campbell took the free kick but his low shot was well saved by Aaron McCarey. Glenavon did go in front two minutes later though. A quick throw in on the left was collected by Campbell. He went past Hrvoje Plum and then Willie Garrett's weak challenge before the ball fell to Matthew Snoddy who curled a delightful shot into the far top corner giving McCarey no chance. Just before the quarter hour mark there was another chance for the home side but Matthew Fitzpatrick dragged his shot wide.

Glentoran levelled thing up on 20 minutes. A long ball forward from Garrett was well controlled by Jay Donnelly. Donnelly controlled the ball and evaded Calum Birney before finding Robbie McDaid. McDaid's low shot was well kept out by James Taylor in the home goal but the ball broke to Conor McMenamin. McMenamin showed fantastic composure to bring the ball under control before eventually slotting it into the Glenavon net. On 25 minutes Glentoran broke forward again on the right through Shay McCartan. He was clearly pulled back by  Andrew Doyle but although referee Andrews awarded a free kick, surprisingly there was no card for the defender!

Willie Garrett picked up a knock and had to be replaced on 28 minutes by debutant, Darren Cole. Cole's first involvement saw him condcede a free kick just outside the penalty area. Peter Campbell again took the set piece but this time couldn't beat the Glentoran defensive wall. A cross from the left just after the half hour mark presented another opportunity for Matthew Fitzpatrick but his header was wide of the target. On 34 minutes a clearance from the Glentoran defence was clearly handled by Campbell but neither the referee or linesman (who was better placed to see the infringement) called it. Campbell was then fouled by Rhys Marshall who was harshly shown a yellow card with the home side being awarded a free kick! This time Matthew Snoddy took the free kick but again the Glentoran defensive wall did its job.

A blatant body check by Mark Haughey on Shay McCartan went unpunished by referee Andrews and then the official caused more frustration amongst the large travelling support by showing a yellow card for an innocuous challenge on Sean Ward!

Halftime: Glenavon 1-1 Glentoran 

Jay Donnelly had the first opportunity of the second half but his angled drive was well blocked by the Glenavon defence. On 51 minutes the Glentoran support once again vented their frustration at the referee when he awarded Glenavon a free kick just outside the box when it was Matthew Fitzpatrick who was clearly backing into Darren Cole! Following a long range effort from Hrvoje Plum which sailed well over the bar we then had a rather unsavoury moment when Robbie McDaid was penalised for a slight infringement. Matthew Snoddy was straight in the referee's face protesting and trying to get McDaid sent off. It was an example of everything that is wrong in the modern game and to compound the matter Snoddy then was guilty of a very high challenge on Hrvoje Plum. Plum went down and was quickly put in the recovery position by team mates before receiving treatment. Strangely Glentoran were only awarded a throw in!

Conor McMenamin had a long range effort on the hour mark but it was comfortably dealt with by James Taylor. A minute later the home side went back in front. Again it came from a throw in, Peter Campbell collecting the ball and going past Rhys Marshall and Hrvoje Plum before taking a return pass from Matthew Snoddy. The striker then went between Darren Cole and Seanan Clucas before driving a low shot into the far corner of the goal. On 62 minutes Glentoran made a double substitution with Rory Donnelly and Michael O'Connor coming on to replace Robbie McDaid and Shay McCartan.

With just 13 minutes remaining and with Glentoran trailing the substitutions paid off. A long ball forward by the excellent Bobby Burns was collected by Rory Donnelly. He got the better of Andrew Doyle and crossed for brother Jay to power home a diving header despite a challenge from Mark Haughey. It was Jay Donnelly's 24th goal of the season and one which lifted both his team and the Glentoran support which had filled the away stand.

Things got even better just 3 minutes later. Glentoran attacked again down the right had side. Conor McMenamin was forced to turn back towards his own goal. He whipped a cross into the danger area which Rory Donnelly, Michael O'Connor and Jay Donnelly all went for, hoping to get a head on the ball. They all missed it though but more importantly, so too did James Taylor and the ball found the far corner of the net. The Glentoran fans went wild. Before the game could restart though, Glentoran keeper Aaron McCarey had to receive treatment havong appeared to have been struck on the head by object(s) thrown from behind the goal - an area occupied by home fans.

On 85 minutes a foul on Conor McMenamin gave the Glens a free kick around 25 yards from goal. Hrvoje Plum took it and James Taylor was forced to turn the Croatian's strike behind for a corner. A minute from time Conor McMenamin tried a speculative effort from inside the centre circle. His wind assisted shot was wide of the target though. 

Glentoran, with a single goal advantage, then saw the 4th official indicate 6 minutes of additional time. The home side won a couple of free kicks and a corner in added time but Glentoran, superbly marshalled at the back by Caolan Marron, would not be breached again. A couple of Glenavon goal kicks which went straight out of play certainly worked in Glentoran's favour. From the second of those Michael O'Connor picked up Rhys Marshall's throw. He drove past James Singleton before crossing for Conor McMenamin to fire home his third from about 8 yards out. Game over. The win returned Glentoran to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership with Cliftonville moving into second spot. There's still a way to go but today's fightback kept us very much in the title race.

Photographs by PACEMAKER

Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall, Burns, Marron, Garrett (Cole28), Plum, Clucas (c), McCartan (O'Connor 62), McDaid (R. Donnelly (62), J. Donnelly & McMenamin.