Glentoran went down 2-1 at the Bet McLean Oval this evening in what developed into an ugly contest at times and which had a few debateable decisions from the match officials.
The Glens went into the game without the injured Rhys Marshall; Aaron Wightman filling the right-back slot. Also missing were Marcus Kane, Rory Donnelly and Patrick McClean. Shay McCartan was also brought into the starting line up with Cameron Palmer on the bench. Other than a header wide of the target early on by Andrew Ryan and a blocked shot from Bobby Burns at the other end, there was little goalmouth action in the opening quarter hour. On 15 minutes though Niall McGinn picked up the ball on the left and beat a couple of defenders before appearing to be upended in the box however referee McNabb waved away the home side's penalty appeals. On 25 minutes however the Glens should have been awarded a spot kick when Jay Donnelly was clearly man-handled in the area but again, nothing given. In between those two incidents there were a couple of opportunities for Larne. Firstly Andrew Ryan fired well over from the edge of the box and then a quick free kick caught out the home defence and Michael Glynn saw his shot deflected behind. From the resulting corner, Cian Bolger headed narrowly wide.
On 31 minutes we had a lengthy stoppage when Aaron Wightman was victim of an extremely nasty challange from Glynn. The Larne player had no chance of winning the ball and looked to deliberately hit Wightman. Both players had to receive treatment. Glentoran goalkeeper, Aaron McCarey was shown a yellow card for protesting about the seriousness of the challenge. Glynn was also given a yellow card! On 38 minutes Glentoran looked to have taken the lead. Bobby Burns played a free kick into the area and Jay Donnelly powered a header towards goal. Rohan Ferguson managed to keep it out but the ball fell to Aidan Wilson who fired it into the net only to be denied by a late linesman's flag. TV replays would indicate that the goal should have stood. Larne then broke forward and were unlucky when Dylan Sloan saw his effort come back off the crossbar.
As halftime approached Aaron Wightman and Daire O'Connor linked well on the right before O'Connor's cross was met on the volley by Shay McCartan but his attempt was well over the bar. In the first of eight added minutes Aidan Wilson piced up an injury and had to be replaced by Jonny Russell. In the final minute of added time the Glens did well to recover the ball in midfield with Shay McCartan finding Daire O'Connor who, in turn, set Jay Donnelly in on goal. The Glentoran striker was unlucky though to see his shot go inches wide of the post.
Halftime: Glentoran 0-0 Larne
Just 4 minutes after the break the visitors went in front. Michael Glynn, who arguably shouldn't have been on the field, was given too much time on the left and he was able to cut inside Aaron Wightman before firing past McCarey from just inside the area. The same player had another chance 4 minutes later from a similar position but this time dragged his shot wide. On 56 minutes Cameron Palmer and Junior were introduced at the expense of McGinn and O'Connor. On the hour mark Palmer did well to win a corner on the right. Bobby Burns swung the ball in and Jonny Russell's header was deflected over the bar. Shay McCartan then brought another decent save out of Ferguson with a low 20-yard effort.
From the resulting Glentoran corner Larne cleared the ball down field and Andrew Ryan managed to get the better of Aaron Wightman before rounding Aaron McCarey and firing home. Glentoran tried to respond and a James Singleton header from a Burns corner shaved the crossbar. Then with 10 minutes remaining, the Glens pulled a goal back. Jay Donnelly did brilliantly to block a clearance and the ball looped in the air towards the 'D'. Junior flicked it towards Shay McCartan and his header fell nicely into the path of Bobby Burns who smashed the ball home from around 15 yards. Despiye there being another 8 minutes of added time and the Glens throwing everything at the Sydenham End goal, there was to be no equaliser.
Photographs by PACEMAKER.
Glentoran: McCarey, Wightman (Jenkins 88), Singleton, McCullough (c), Wilson (Russell 45+1), Sule, Burns, McCartan, McGinn (Junior 56), O'Connor (Palmer56) & J. Donnelly