Glentoran made a winning start to their Danske Bank Premiership campaign with a 3-1 victory over Donegal Celtic at a sun drenched Oval this afternoon.
Manager, Eddie Patterson gave competitive debuts to Jay Magee, Marcus Kane and Mark Clarke and it was Magee who opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 7th minute after Jim O’Hanlon had been felled in the area. A couple of minutes earlier Richard Clarke had gone close with a 20-yard drive which was just wide of the post. On 12 minutes the Glens doubled their lead. A quick throw-in sent Andy Waterworth clear and the big striker, who had an excellent game, lobbed the ball over Niall Murphy in the Donegal Celtic goal. A 19th minute Glentoran corner eventually broke to Mark Clarke on the edge of the area but his thunderous drive cannoned off a defender and away to safety. The Glens had another great claim for a penalty on 24 minutes when O’Hanlon looked to be tripped in the box by McShane but the referee waved away the appeals. As the half hour mark approached both teams went close with Waterworth (28) heading a Carson cross wide whist Shane Dolan (29) headed a Conor Downey free kick straight at Elliott Morris. On 39 minutes skipper, Colin Nixon made a terrific block to deny Dolan but Donegal Celtic did reduce the deficit 2 minutes from the interval, Mark Miskimmin toe-poking the ball past Morris from close range. Miskimmin might have levelled things up on the stroke of half time but a great challenge from Magee denied him.
On 57 minutes Glentoran restored their 2-goal advantage. A terrific cross-field ball from Andy Waterworth found Stephen Carson and he did really well down the left before producing one of his trade-mark crosses to the back post where Jim O’Hanlon was waiting to nod home. Sean Ward broke down the right on 68 minutes and fed John McGuigan. His effort on goal was blocked but the ball fell to Waterworth. Andy’s shot was deflected onto the inside of the post and a relieved Niall Murphy was able to gather the ball. On 70 minutes we had the first yellow card of the game following a bad tackle from behind on Jim O’Hanlon by Patrick McShane. It resulted in O’Hanlon being stretchered off and it looks likely that he will miss Northern Ireland’s U21 trip to Hungary this week. Carl McComb replaced O’Hanlon and was Glentoran’s third substitution of the game; Eamonn Murray having replaced Richard Clarke (foot injury) and Jimmy Callacher coming on for Mark Clarke. McComb almost made it four on 79 minutes but having beaten the keeper he was unfortunate to see his shot cleared off the line. Nixon was off target following a Carson free kick as we entered stoppage time and Carl McComb was again unlucky not to get his name on the score sheet on 92 minutes when he was denied by the fingertips of Niall Murphy.
Glentoran: Morris, Ward, Kane, Magee, Nixon (capt), M. Clarke, R. Clarke, McGuigan, Carson & Waterworth.
Subs: E. Murray for R. Clarke (53), Callacher for M. Clarke (70) & McComb for O’Hanlon (72).
Goals and interviews from the game are on BBC Sport NI.