It was another difficult game for Glentoran this season but a victory nonetheless defeating Larne 2-1 at The Oval in the Co Antrim Shield. Goals from Kym Nelson and Jordan Stewart saw Glentoran through to the Second Round.
Kym Nelson returned to the starting line-up following two weeks out from an injury he sustained against Coleraine in the Danske Bank Premiership. Eddie Patterson shaped up Glentoran's side with a new formation playing a 3-5-2 with Calum Birney, Willie Garrett and Jonny Addis in defence. Jim O'Hanlon and Marcus Kane occupied wing-back positions with Nelson and Henderson in midfield. David Scullion and Curtis Allen played up front whilst Jordan Stewart played in behind the front two in the number 10 role.
The changes to Glentoran's formation took a bit of time to settle as Larne started the brighter of the two sides. Elliott Morris was forced into a save off a right foot shot from former Glentoran player Ross Davison in the game's first real opportunity. The first half offered a tough midfield battle but chances were few and far between. Kym Nelson finally hit the target but his effort was saved by Larne's goalkeeper. Curtis Allen could have had the ball in the back of the net when he chipped the goalkeeper from the edge of the box but the referee pulled play back for a free kick to Larne in the build up.
As the half wore on Glentoran started to get into more of a passing stride and took the lead shortly before the interval. A good move through the middle saw Kym Nelson through on goal and he finished high into the top corner leaving the goalkeeper no chance. It wasn't Glentoran's most vintage half but a lead is a lead.
The tempo of the first half didn't really change going into the second period with a lot of midfield battles in the game. Glentoran were far more in control without ever penetrating the Larne backline. Jordan Stewart was Glentoran's brightest prospect, moving in and out of space in the box in his trademark way twisting in and out of defenders but with no end product. He did go close on one occasion, jinking past two defenders before shooting tamely at the goalkeeper. The move received the biggest applause at the night from The Oval faithful.
Glentoran seemed to wrap up the tie soon after in scrappy fashion. Willie Garrett's crossed free kick was not a good one but squeezed into the area and was deflected in by Stewart. It certaintly wasn't pretty but Glentoran were 2-0 up and comfortable.
Glentoran have had issues this season with seeing games out from winning positions and question marks were once again raised when Larne pulled a goal back ten minutes from time. It was a really soft goal too which won't please the backroom staff. Elliott Morris under no pressure played a poor pass out of defence straight to Larne who quickly squared the ball back into the middle past Calum Birney and Willie Garrett to score into the unguarded net at back post.
Thankfully for Glentoran, Larne didn't cause much other threat and the game was seen out in victory.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell
Glentoran: Morris, Garrett, Birney, Addis, O'Hanlon, Kane, Nelson, Henderson, Stewart, Scullion, Allen
Subs: McCullough for Henderson, McKee for O'Hanlon