Glentoran FC

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



Glentoran 1–0 Annagh United

Sat, 06/01/2024 - 22:19

Glentoran progress to the last sixteen of the Clearer Water Irish Cup with a narrow late win over a dogged Annagh United at the Bet McLean Oval. The NIFL Championship side deserve much credit for their performance. having continually frustrated the Glens until a clinical 89th minute finish from Junior ultimately settled the tie. The match will also be remembered for an emotional commemoration of Lydia Ross in the 21st minute – with a round of applause from both all fans and players alike providing an opportunity to show condolences and sympathy to the Ross family.

With so many injuries in the midfield areas, Glentoran fans had the boost of welcoming the return of Seanan Clucas for the first time in a year following a troubling long-term injury. Fuad Sule and Daire O’Connor were rested on the bench while young winger Rhys Walsh returned to the squad,

Glentoran started the match brightly, creating the first notable chance of the match in the fourth minute. Aaron Wightman showed an excellent piece of skill to cut inside from wide-right and lay the ball off to Shay McCartan, only for his long range piledriver to be sent over the crossbar. Indeed, Glentoran also won a number of early corners, but a combination of poor deliveries and steadfast defending from the County Armagh opposition producing frustration. Luke McCullough was also unlucky not to see his effort from a McCartan corner hit the net in the 21st minute. A deep cross fell kindly for our number four, but his right-foot effort sailed over the crossbar.

Annagh steadily grew into the first half as Glentoran struggled to convert their dominance in possession into score line advantage. A long, curling drive from Ruairi McDonald brought an excellent save from Aaron McCarey in the 34th minute, who did well to tip the ball around the post for a corner. The away side produced further cause for concern moments later. Eoin Teggart did well to cut past Aaron Wightman to force a save from McCarey, only for Ruairi McDonald to blaze a follow up over the bar. Indeed, the away side would rue their best chance of the game moments later when a 38th minute header from the ever-industrious McDonald was turned off the line by Paddy McClean.

However, for all the away side’s chances to produce a shock opener, it was Glentoran who produced the moment of the first half just before the break. Excellent aerial work from Junior resulted in Shay McCartan forcing the ball into the net, only for the referee to rule out the goal after adjudging Junior to have fouled Annagh United keeper Jason Craughwell. A frustrating end to a first half which perhaps best summarised the sense of emotions simmering around the Oval stands among the Glentoran faithful.

Half time: Glentoran 0-0 Annagh United

Warren Feeney immediately attempted to inject a sense of impetus into Glentoran’s second half, sending both Dáire O’Connor and Fuad Sule into the action for Marcus Kane and David Fisher respectively. Indeed, the former almost made an immediate impact; an excellent teasing cross from the right in the 46th minute just missed Junior’s advances in the centre of the box. Bobby Burns was also unlucky to see his close-range effort on the near post saved by Craughwell.

Chances would continue to pass Glentoran as a lack of quality in crucial moments continued to become the story of the day. A succession of free kicks and corners for the home side failed to produce fruitful opportunities, notably summed up on the hour in open play: an excellent piece of skill from Junior sent O’Connor free wide right, but his tantalising cross failed to meet anyone in the box.

Warren Feeney again rolled the dice in the search for an opener in the 65th minute: Jay Donnelly and Rhys Walsh replaced Shay McCartan and Seanan Clucas respectively, with both producing notable chances towards the end of the game. Dáire O’Connor firstly did well to find Rhys Walsh inside the box in the 80th minute, who forced an excellent save from Craughwell to maintain the deadlock. However, Walsh and Donnelly would then combine to produce the best chance of the match in the 85th minute: a penetrating run from the former down the left produced a cross which left the goal gaping for Donnelly, who shot over the crossbar from just outside the six-yard box.

However, Glentoran would produce a moment of quality in the 89th minute to finally break Annagh United’s resistance and clinch the game. Excellent footwork from Sule on the edge of the area created space to send Junior free in the box, who made no mistake with a clinical finish in the bottom corner. A sense of jubilation and relief ensued around the Oval: a welcome reward for Glentoran supporters after a tense and nervous afternoon in which our NIFL Championship opposition worked extremely hard to make this tie a contest.

Ultimately, knockout football is all about the result. Glentoran can now look forward to a journey to Lisburn to face Ballymacash Rangers in the last sixteen of a Clearer Water Irish Cup which is becoming increasingly important in the context of the club’s season.  The game will be played on Saturday 3rd February at 3pm.

Full time: Glentoran 1-0 Annagh United

Photography by PACEMAKER

Glentoran: McCarey, Wightman, Russell, McCullough, McClean, Kane (c) (Sule 45), Clucas (Walsh 60), Burns, McCartan (J Donnelly 60), Junior & Fisher (O’Connor 45)

Subs (Not used): Webber, Kelly Feeney