Glentoran FC

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Glentoran 2-3 Larne

Sat, 01/01/2022 - 20:13

Glentoran's unbeaten run of 14 games in the Danske Bank Premiership came to an end at the Bet McLean Oval this evening; Larne winning the game 3-2 and recording their first victory at the East Belfast venue since 1978.

The home side lost Gael Bigirimana to injury in the pre-match warm up and Jordan Jenkins was drafted into the starting line up. The Glens were already without the suspended Conor McMenamin & Joe Crowe and with Robbie McDaid missing through illness and recent new signings not eligible for this fixture, the team was below its normal strength.

As the game kicked off, torrential rain engulfed the Oval. Larne, playing towards the Sydenham End and with a very strong wind at their backs, took early advantage of the elements and forced a series of corners in the opening period. The Glentoran defence held firm though and apart from a Nasseri shot which was well off the mark, we seemed to have weathered the storm. However just as the Glens looked to grow into the game Larne scored. Andrew Scott received the ball near the corner of the 18-yard box and cut inside before shooting for goal from around 20 yards. It wasn't a powefully struck effort but the bounce of the ball on the wet surface seemed to deceive Aaron McCarey and the ball nestled in the corner of the net.

On 18 minutes, following a foul on Jay Donnelly, the Glens had their first real opportunity. Hrvoje Plum's delivery into the box saw the ball deflected into the air before being claimed by Rohan Ferguson in the visitors' goal. Midway through the half though, Glentoran drew level. Hrvoje Plum did really well to pressurise Kofi Balmer into an error inside the Larne box. Plum took possession and crossed for Jay Donnelly to fire home from around 10 yards. It was number 21 of the season for 'the striker'. 

Just after the half hour mark an excellent cross into the area from Shay McCartan put the Larne defence under more pressure. Jay Donnelly appeared to be knocked over in the area but the referee waved away the penalty appeals. Ben Doherty went close 10 minutes from the break and then moments later it took an excellent interception from Caolan Marron to deny Scott a second goal.

Halftime: Glentoran 1-1 Larne

The second half saw the Glens start strongly. on 51 minutes Rory Donnelly forced a corner which was swung intothe box by Bobby Burns. Jay Donnelly got on the end of it but his header flashed wide of the post. Shay McCartan then went close with a dipping shot which was narrowly over the bar and then the Donnelly brothers combined; Jay setting up Rory whose shot was inches wide of the target. Against the run of play, Larne reclaimed the lead. Seanan Clucas conceded a corner. The set piece from Larne's righthand side was headed goalwards by John Herron. The ball deflected off Clucas but as Jay Donnelly tried to hook the ball clear it struck Rhys Marshall and crept over the line to make it 2-1.

Just after the hour mark the Glens were level again. Marron and Marshall linked well before the Glentoran number 8 found Shay McCartan. His cross from the right was missed by Jay Donnelly but Tomas Cosgrove's attempted clearance ended up in the back of his own net to give us the second own goal in 7 minutes! Clucas joined Plum in the referee's notebook shortly afterwards. Neither tackle seemed particularly worthy of a yellow card but on both occasions we had the unwelcome sight of Larne players surrounding the referee and putting him under pressure. 

With 20 minutes remaining Larne grabbed what turned out to be the winner. David McDaid collected the ball around 25 yards from goal and side stepped Caolan Marron before firing past Aaron McCarey who was well off his line. A cross from substitute Andrew Mitchell almost resulted in another Larne own goal just 3 minutes later; Kofi Balmer releived to see the ball fly inches past the post. Larne, with their narrow lead, then resorted to time wasting or game management, depending on your point of view. Unfortunately we had only 4 minutes of added time but in that time Glentoran spurned two great chances to equalise. 

Following a slip at the back by a Larne defender, Andrew Mitchell gained possession and drove for goal from a narrow angle, the ball being deflected behind for a corner. With hindsight, pulling the ball back across goal would have been a much better option with Jay & Rory Donnelly both in excellent receiving positions. In the 94th minute a slip by Albert Watson saw Jay Donnelly through on goal but the keeper managed to keep the ball out with his legs.

Photographs by PACEMAKER

Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall, Burns, Marron, McClean (c), Plum (Smith 71), Clucas, Jenkins (Mitchell 66), McCartan, J. Donnelly & R. Donnelly.