Glentoran FC

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Glentoran 0-0 Linfield

Sat, 06/04/2024 - 22:27

A fiercely contested Big Two derby at the Bet McClean Oval finished scoreless this evening. After the disappointment of last week’s Irish Cup semi-final defeat, the team deserve credit for producing a battling performance full of desire across the pitch.

Declan Devine made a number of changes from last week. David Fisher and Seanan Clucas returned from suspension while Johnny Russell and Junior returned to the starting lineup while Rhys Marshall had a welcome start in what’s been an injury ravaged season for this very important player. Daire O’Connor was carrying a knock so wasn’t risked.

Glentoran started the game brightly, producing a multitude of early chances. First – in a free kick won straight from kick off - Fisher’s tantalising cross failed to reach those in black in the Linfield box. Rhys Marshall was also instrumental in a second early chance on the 5th minute, slotting Jay Donnelly through on goal only for his shot to fall wide of the target.

Indeed, the Glens continued this early pressure to push for an opener. The excellent Glentoran defence and midfield on the day continued to be instrumental in creating chances; Singleton played Donnelly through on goal on the 16th minute, only for the striker to direct his shot straight at the goalkeeper. Fisher also released Seanan Clucas free wide right shortly after, with an excellent cross seeing Junior head just wide of the target.

However for all Glentoran’s intent in the first half, Linfield were always good value on the break. In one early breakaway, Matthew Fitzpatrick went close to heading in Kirk Millar’s corner delivery. Later in the half, a Millar free kick just missed Daniel Finlayson in the 27th minute – who was completely free at the back post. Fitzpatrick would arguably miss Linfield’s best chance of the half shortly after, sending a header just wide of the post on the 38th minute.

The game was certainly an even-matched contest as the teams trundled up the tunnel, giving both managers some tactical thoughts to consider at the break.

Half Time: Glentoran 0-0 Linfield

Declan Devine’s first act of the new half was to introduce Bobby Burns into the field of play in replacement for an injured Seanan Clucas.

The teams traded gilt-edged chances at the start of the half. Ben Hall headed another Kirk Millar dead-ball delivery just wide of the post in the 47th minute. Moments later, Jay Donnelly drove into the box after a neat piece of trickery, only for his shot to ripple the side netting. Indeed, Donnelly would go through on goal again shortly after, with only a fine Chris Johns save denying Glentoran an opener.

Shortly after and just before the hour mark, the pendulum would begin to swing towards Linfield with Matthew Fitzpatrick once again just failing to connect with a delivery which would most certainly have beaten Aaron McCarey had he got a touch. Then the relatively quiet Joel Cooper finally burst into life as the striker left Luke McCullough in his wake to fire a low rasping drive that Aaron McCarey did well to turn around his right-hand post for a corner.

Declan Devine introduced skipper Marcus Kane for an injured Johnny Russell in the 77th minute to shake up the competition, but in truth neither team produced enough to win the game in the final quarter. Niall McGinn replaced Jay Donnelly in the 90th minute in search of a late winner which didn’t come, but the home side took credit from fans for a battling performance that showed a sense of discipline which has been sadly lacking for the majority of the season.

Glentoran can now look forward to 4 more post-split fixtures in preparation for the European play-offs. It’s imperative we hit form as we did at this stage last season. Hopefully this evening was the start.

Full Time: Glentoran 0-0 Linfield

Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall, Russell (Kane 77), McCullough (c), McClean, Sule, Singleton, Clucas (Burns 46), O’Connor, Junior, Fisher, J Donnelly (McGinn 90).   

Subs (Not used): Webber, Wilson, Lindsay, McCartan

Photography by PACEMAKER