Glentoran FC

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Glentoran 1–2 Linfield

Wed, 08/11/2023 - 01:45

The game was ultimately settled by Glentoran indecision in both boxes, despite a late rally after falling two goals behind. A minute’s silence was also observed before kick-off to remember all those who gave their lives in both world wars and later conflicts. The chairmen of both clubs laid poppy wreaths to mark the occasion.

Glentoran started brightly on the night, with both Niall McGinn and Dáire O’Connor producing inviting crosses in the opening 5 minutes on respective flanks to test the Linfield defence. Indeed, a sweeping Glentoran move shortly after placed Junior through on goal, but he lacked a decisive touch at the vital moment. However, it was Linfield who took the lead against the run of play on 13 minutes with their first attack of the game. A cross from Chris Shields on the left found its way to Joel Cooper on the right-hand side of the box, who drilled past McCarey to undo Glentoran’s good work until this point.

Linfield’s opening goal provided stimulus for the away side to grow into the game. Joel Cooper threatened to make it two shortly after his opener in almost identical fashion, turning a cross from the left-hand side narrowly wide on 16 minutes. Matthew Fitzpatrick also threatened shortly after the half hour mark, with a dangerous run troubling a Glentoran defence that had begun to look shaky since Cooper’s opener. However, Glentoran did show some grit and determination to create a major chance before the first half break. Dáire O’Connor ran free down the right-hand side to skilfully cross for Jay Donnelly in the centre of the goal, who could only manage a fresh air swipe with just Chris Johns to beat.

Half time: Glentoran 0-1 Linfield

Glentoran were instantly made to pay for their slow start to the second half, with Linfield scoring their second of the night directly from the restart. After a quick passing move, Matthew Clarke crossed into the box, with a defensive mistake presenting the ball for Joel Cooper to curl his second of the night past Aaron McCarey. With the away side firmly in control, a further major chance would shortly follow; Jamie Mulgrew ballooned a chance over the bar from the centre of the box on 54 minutes when it looked easier to score. However, Glentoran continued to press to reduce the arrears, with a mistake from the Linfield backline put Jay Donnelly clean through on 59 minutes. However, he fluffed his lines from just inside the box to keep the score at 2-0 to the away side.

Shay McCartan and Cameron Palmer were introduced to the field of play on 62 minutes in an attempt to inject new life into the game. The former in particular attempted to instantly put his stamp on the match, with two whipped dead balls into the box testing the Linfield defence. However, both picked up quick yellow cards to reduce their influence upon the match. In the resulting void, the pendulum again began to swing towards Linfield, with Joel Cooper forcing an excellent save from Aaron McCarey to deny his hat trick on 74 minutes.

A game that looked like feebly petering out for Glentoran was resurrected on 82 minutes, with Jay Donnelly heading an excellent Dáire O’Connor cross into the top corner to reduce the score line to 2-1. A late surge resulted as the crowd urged the team on to force an equaliser in the dying minutes. An Aidan Wilson header was turned off the line on 87 minutes, before Junior agonisingly hit the crossbar with a header deep inside injury time. Ultimately, Glentoran were denied, leaving frustration that indecision in vital moments ensure our Bet McLean Cup drought continues.

Full Time: Glentoran 1-2 Linfield

Photography by Pacemaker and Johnny Caldwell

Glentoran: Aaron McCarey, Aaron Wightman, Jonathan Russell, James Singleton (captain), Aidan Wilson, Fuad Sule, Sean Murray, Niall McGinn, Daire O’Connor, Junior and Jay Donnelly

      Substitutes: Ollie Webber, Harry Murphy, Josh Kelly, Cammy Palmer (for Murray 64), Shay McCartan (for McGinn 64), Rory Donnelly (for Russell 79) Bailey Locke