More disappointment for the Glens support today as for the second time in 5 days we meekly surrendered and squandered a 2-goal lead at home. And for the second time in 4 months it was 35-year-old Curtis Allen who came home to haunt his old club with the vital late goal.
Warren Feeney started with the same 11 players as against Cliftonville on Tuesday night and the first meaningful incident was a controversial one as Daire O’Connor was blatantly fouled when through on goal and about to pull the trigger. But referee Tim Marshall inexplicably waved away the penalty appeals and the red card that would have inevitably followed. This was particularly unfair on the consistently dangerous O’Connor.
The O’Connor incident was immediately followed by David Fisher shooting just wide from distance before Bobby Burns gave us the lead on 20 minutes with his fourth goal in consecutive games and his fifth in 6. It was a typical Burns goal as he took a short pass from Faud Sule before hammering home from 25 yards.
The Glens continued to control the game and it was no surprise when David Fisher doubled the lead eight minutes before the break when following great work by Johnny Russell, he fired it past the Carrick keeper for his own 11th goal of the season and his 7th in 6 games.
The only 2 further incidents of the half were a late saving tackle by Luke McCullough at one end and a goalmouth scramble at the other ending with a good save by former Glens keeper Ross Glendinning.
Half Time: Glentoran 2-0 Carrick Rangers
Daire O’Connor continued to torture the Carrick defence and 12 minutes into the half the Glens spurned a perfect chance to kill the game off. A perfect header forward by Seanan Clucas was nodded on equally perfectly into the path of Junior. The striker looked a cert to score but he hesitated, giving Carrick’s Kurtis Forsyth the opportunity to run a good 30 yards to distract Junior, whose relatively tame shot was saved by Glendinning.
Ten minutes later the Glens paid the price through another wonder strike. This time it was former Larne man Andrew Mitchell who hammered one in from just outside the box that gave Ollie Webber no chance. Not long afterwards Webber made a very good save from goal bound Cushley free kick. But tbt this stage the home crowd’s hearts were well set in their mouths as they feared (expected) the worst.
But before it came there was another controversial refereeing decision. Ross Glendinning parried a Fisher free kick and the alert Daire O’Connor was on hand to score from the rebound. But referee Marshall ruled it offside, much to the winger’s chagrin.
The by now inevitable equaliser came on 83 minutes. Carrick had made a triple substitution 3 minutes earlier, one of the subs being Curtis Allen, a Glentoran legend for his goalscoring heroics 2014-2019. It was a carbon copy of Allen’s late winner here in November as another ex-Glenman Danny Gibson (Purkis) put a ball across the Glens 6-yard box where Allen was well placed to flick home. 7 minutes injury time the Glens showed no threat on the Carrick goal as the game petered out to a draw.
Incredibly Glentoran have dropped no fewer than 19 league points from winning positions in 8 league games where leads have been squandered, most often in the dying minutes. 8 of them were lost to Carrick alone! This is very harsh on the players who worked so hard to create those leads, but it is equally damning of the mentality of players incapable of maintaining even a 2-goal lead and is the difference between title contenders and also rans. It is unacceptable and supporters will expect to see changes made ahead of next week’s visit by bottom placed Newry City. One good half of football per match is rarely enough.
Full Time: Glentoran 2-2 Carrick Rangers
Glentoran: Webber, Wilson, Russell, McCullough, Kane(c) (Lindsay 74), Sule, Burns, Clucas, O’Connor, Junior (McCartan 90) & Fisher
Subs (Not used): L Donnelly, Murphy, Kelly, Lindsay, McLaughlin
Photography by PACEMAKER