Glentoran ended their Cliftonville hoodoo today with this decisive and comfortable victory at the Bet McLean Oval.
Rodney McAree made just one change to Wednesday’s game v Windsor with Aaron Wightman taking the place of the injured Hrvoje Plum. Wightman lined up at right back with Rhys Marshall moved into a midfield three with Bobby Burns and Terry Devlin. Harry Murphy kept his place at centre back after an impressive first start at the National Stadium.
Following a minute’s applause in respect to Dr Chris Kyle who sadly passed earlier this week, Cliftonville started brightly and dominated the first fifteen minutes or so without creating any meaningful chances, leaving Aaron McCarey untroubled. But Glentoran and the game burst into life in the eighteenth minute.
Luke McCullough played a long ball forward and Junior left Reds’ defender Odhran Casey for dead, turned ex-Glens player Jonny Addis inside out before slipping easily past Gerard Doherty for his first goal in a Glentoran shirt.
Fourteen minutes later McCarey was forced into a great close range save by Ryan Curran. From that save the ball went straight back up the field. Wightman hit a long cross field pass to Junior who lobbed forward to Conor McMenamin, The NI international played a low pass across the box where Niall McGinn dummied it. Bobby Burns then took possession and hit a low shot firmly into the right hand corner of Doherty’s net.
Almost immediately McGinn hit a rocket that hit the post, but on the stroke of half time Burns made the game safe with our third. The ball fell to Bobby just outside the box after good work by Devlin. McMenamin and McGinn. The Glens midfielder made no mistake from 20 yards for his third goal of the week and tenth of the season.
Half Time: Glentoran 3-0 Cliftonville
The Reds started the second half with meaningful substitutions. Joe Gormley, our February torturer Sean Moore and the experienced Colin Coates replacing Chris and Ryan Curran and Jonny Addis.
The half followed a similar pattern to the first with the Reds starting positively before the Glens regained control of the game. Ronan Hale brough a good save from McCarey then his brother Ronan fired just wide.
After an hour the Glens had a stonewall penalty claim refused when Doherty fell on Junior in the Reds’ area. A minute later he Junior should have made it four when pot through in a similar manner to this opener. This time Doherty managed to clock his shot.
So an excellent and thoroughly deserved win that moves us up two places to third, a point ahead of Cliftonville and two more than Crusader. We still rely on Linfield dropping points for us to make second, but the mood around the club is a positive one.
Full Time: Glentoran 3-0 Cliftonville
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Wightman (Smith 83), Singleton, McCullough (c) , Murphy , Burns, Devlin, Marshall (Crowe 76), McGinn (R. Donnelly 68), McMenamin (Walsh 83) & Junior (Purkis 76)