Tonight was 16 days short of a decade since Glentoran last played Lisburn Distillery in a competitive match at the Oval! For many of the spectators it wasn't a game that will live long in the memory but for many of the young players getting an opportunity this evening, it's a game they will never forget.
It was a much changed Glentoran side which took to the field, led out by Jay Donnelly wearing the captain's armband. Ollie Webber was in goal with a back four of Mal Smith, Jonathan Russell, Harry Murphy and Joe Crowe. Our three in midfield were Terry Devlin, Aaron Wightman and Hrvoje Plum with Jay Donnelly, Danny Purkis and Ally Roy in attack.
The Glens made all of the early running with Aaron Wightman involved in most of the meaningful moves. On 5 minutes his cross from the right was met by Danny Purkis but he fired wide of the target. Moments later the ball broke for Wightman in the box but Ethan Carry did well to keep his effort out. A mazy run from Wightman then created a chance for Jay Donnelly but he fired over. Then on 9 minutes a Purkis cross was headed over by Wightman.
Just after the quarter hour mark another Glentoran attack was foiled but the clearance was met by Mal Smith. He struck the ball siperbly but unfortunately his shot was wide of the target. The Lisburn Distillery resistance was finally broken on 23 minutes. A long ball forward was collected by Jay Donnelly. With the Whites' keeper out of position the stand-in skipper clipped the ball over him and Danny Purkis was on hand to make sure of the goal, netting from close range.
10 minutes from the break there was almost a second goal. Following a couple of corners the clearance once again could only find Mal Smith. Once again he struck the ball sweetly but Ethan Carry made an excellent save to deny the young Glens defender. There was one final chance for the home side in added time; Wightman's cross found Donnelly but the Distillery keeper made a comfortable save.
Halftime: Glentoran 1-0 Lisburn Distillery
A couple of minutes into the second half, a neat move involving Hrvoje Plum and Ally Roy ended with the Scot firing into the side netting. On 56 minutes a superb cross from Mal Smith on the right was inches away from Jay Donnelly's attempted diving header. Midway through the half substitute Bobby Burns almost made it two goals in two games with a 25 yard volley which deflected off the head of Stephen Curley and behind for a corner.
Terry Devlin went close with a long range effort on 77 minutes but again the Lisburn Distillery keeper made a fine save. As the game entered the final 10 minutes there was always the danger that the visitors could snatch a goal on the break and perhaps force extra-time. Steven Shearer thought he might get the opportunity to level things up on 82 minutes but Harry Murphy defended really well and saw the ball back to Ollie Webber.
Aaron Wightman's effort from range on 86 minutes was too high and then Terry Devlin created a chance which saw booth Danny Purkis and Rory Donnelly denied by the goalkeeper. There were late appearances for Josh Stewart and Kirk McLaughlin and then in stoppage time Conor Haughey came on to become Glentoran's youngest player aged 15 years, 3 months and 8 days!
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: Webber, Smith (Haughey 90+2), Russell, Crowe, Murphy, Plum, Wightman (Stewart 88), Devlin, J. Donnelly (c) (Burns 59), Purkis (McLaughlin 88) & Roy (R. Donnelly 59).