Another Jay Donnelly goal fired the Glens into the semi-final of the Samuel Gelston's Irish Cup at the Bet McLean Oval this afternoon. It wasn't the best performance of the season and the game itself will certainly not live long in the memory but the primary objective was achieved and the Glens can now look forward to a semi-final encounter with Ballymena United early next month.
Joe Crowe was back in the starting lie up today in place of the injured Willie Garrett, Crowe slotting in to Paddy McClean's central defensive slot. Sean Murray was also back in midfield with Seanan Clucas dropping to the bench. Rhys Marshall wore the captain's armband.
Conor McMenamin, star of last week's win at Glenavon forced an early corner in this game. Then on 6 minutes both Jay Donnelly and Robbie McDaid might have opened the scoring but both failed to get a proper contact on the ball. Shortly afterwards a cross from Bobby Burns was headed wide by Sean Murray. Midway through the half Bobby Burns was in the action again with a 25 yard drive which was well saved by Steven Maguire. The ball broke for Robbie McDaid but he was unable to turn it home.
On 26 minutes Newry City might have taken the lead. They won a corner which was not well defended and John McGovern should have done better with his free header. That miss cost the visitors and they fell behind less than a minute later. Hrvoje Plum picked up the ball in midfield and found Conor McMenamin on the left touchline. McMenamin was closed down by two Newry City players but got a very fortunate break of the ball to put him clear. From the corner of the 18-yard box he curled a delightful ball into the middle and Jay Donnelly's diving header gave Maguire no chance.
Just after the half hour mark a brilliant forward run by Shay McCartan almost brought the Glens a second but his through ball to Conor McMenamin was just too strong. A sublime cross-field ball from Caolan Marron picked out Rhys Marshall on the right wing but his cross was slightly overhit and Newry City were able to clear. Six minutes from the break Newry City had the chance to level things up when a cross from the left was met by Daniel Hughes but his header lacked power and Aaron McCarey was able to gather.
Halftime: Glentoran 1-0 Newry City
Mick McDermott made a triple substitution at the start of the second half; Seanan Clucas, Darrren Cole and Rory Donnelly replacing Rhys Marshall, Hrvoje Plum and Robbie McDaid. Rory Donnelly was quickly into the action heading wide from Sean Murray's free kick. A couple of minutes later there was a chance for Shay McCartan but he fired wide of the post. Just before the hour mark a delightful clipped ball forward from McCartan sent Jay Donnelly clear. He outpaced the defence but was denied a second goal by City keeper, Steven Maguire. The visitors had a great chance to score on 65 minutes as Glentoran's sloppy play lost possession. Lorcan Forde was denied though by a superb challenge from Bobby Burns. From the corner Aaron McCarey made a brilliant reflex save, tipping the ball onto the crossbar and behind for another corner.
On 68 minutes Shay McCartan was really unlucky with a 25-yard effort which took a deflection and needed an excellent save from Maguire to keep the lead at a single goal. 5 minutes later Newry City again benefitted from some sloppy play from the home side with the Glens needing some last ditch defending and a decent save from McCarey to prevent an equaliser. Sean Murray then tested Steven Maguire with a long range effort whilst at the other end Philip Donnelly tested Aaron McCarey once more. As the minutes ticked away both Bobby Burns and Conor McMenamin went close but both were denied by Maguire.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall (c) (Cole 46), Burns, Marron, Crowe, Plum (Clucas 46), Murray, McCartan (O'Connor 70), McDaid (R. Donnelly 46), J. Donnelly & McMenamin.