Glentoran FC

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Glentoran 4-0 Crusaders

Sat, 27/04/2024 - 23:22

An excellent – particularly second half – performance from a much changed, youthful Glentoran side comfortably ensured a home win at the Bet McClean Oval this evening in our final Sports Direct Premiership game of the season.

Both managers used this final game to give an opportunity to a number of the better players in their U21 and youth panels. In Declan Devine’s case this meant first team debuts for

Callan Farley and James Douglas from the start with Owen O’Neill, Tony McElhone, James McClure and Cal Weatherup all getting their debut as subs as the game progressed. Ollie Webber, Charlie Lindsay and Kirk McLaughlin all had a start, Harry Murphy continued in central defence while its was encouraging to see Cameron Palmer and Josh Kelly back in the starting lineup after injury.

The home side started with intent, producing the first chance of the game with just a minute on the clock. A good passing move involving Palmer and Kelly eventually saw the ball break to Bobby Burns on the left. An excellent cross ensued, only for Charlie Lindsay to head just wide.

Glentoran continued to control possession for the first quarter of the game, with Charlie Lindsay also threatening from a direct free kick. However, Crusaders always looked lively on the break – perhaps best epitomised by a flowing move in the 21st minute. A mistake deep within the opposition half produced a flowing move from the visitors – tarnished only by a poor final shot from Jay Boyd, clutched by a grateful Ollie Webber.

However, Glentoran were not to be denied an opener, which came from Jay Donnelly on the half-hour mark. An excellent long-range effort from Charlie Lindsay hit the crossbar then immediately afterwards another Lindsay effort  deflected off a Crusaders defender into the path of Jay Donnelly who released an excellent effort from just outside the box into the far-right hand corner of the net. A well-taken and deserved goal that summed up Glentoran’s performance on the day.

Crusaders would construct the final chance of the half with another trademark counter-attacking move. A mistake in midfield  allowed Jay Boyd to find some yards for the away side, but Ollie Webber made 2 fine point blank saves before gathering from a third shot. Then Jonathan James managed to sky his effort from 12 yards. The Glens took their lead into the break but the young Crues’ attacking abilities would still give the home side some food for thought while heading up the tunnel.

Half time: Glentoran 1-0 Crusaders

Declan Devine took the opportunity at the half-time interval to introduce Owen O’Neill to the fray for his debut in place of the excellent Cammy Palmer (who was later awarded the match ball as Man of the Match by match sponsors Linton Fencing and Sportsground Ltd).

The Glens went on to serve up an excellent performance in the second half – a morale boost after a difficult league campaign and wider season. Charlie Lindsay was unlucky in the early stages to see his shot from an Owen O’Neill cross flash just wide, while Josh Kelly also had an effort go close.

Glentoran did, however, begin to apply gloss to the score line just after the hour – in spectacular style. Kirk McLaughlin produced an excellent solo run down the left, cut inside and scored. There may have been a late deflection off Ryan Kerr but the run and goal were identical to McLaughlin’s goal v Dundela earlier in the season when on loan to Institute..

With Glentoran now 2 up, the team had due rewards for their efforts. Declan Devine took the opportunity to make further substitutions for the final half hourn  with scorer Jay Donnelly replaced by Junior, and Charlie Lindsay by Tony McIlhone.

Shortly afterwards it was 3. A great passing move from the Glens started by  Bobby Burns followed by a super right wing run and cross by Callan Farley saw the ball flash across the box for Kirk McLaughlin to confidently strike his second of the afternoon. Junior played his part with an unselfish dummy to tee up the scorer.

Glentoran were clearly keen to lay down a firm marker ahead of the European play-offswith goal number 4 coming after 71 minutes. An excellent corner kick delivery from Owen O’Neill saw the captain Marcus Kane head home in typical Moko fashion to claim his share of the spoils. With the points secure, the manager introduced Cal Weatherup for Kirk McLaughlin for the final 15 minutes - with the latter rightly taking a standing ovation for his performance on the day. Marcus Kane also made way for James McClure with seconds skipper Farley having the distinction of wearing the armband for the rest of his debut!.

Glentoran continued to dominate proceedings until the final whistle, with Junior just missing a chance to make it a fantastic five in the final minute of stoppage time. Nonetheless, this morale boosting victory ensures Glentoran can approach next week’s European play-off fixture at home to Coleraine in good spirits and supporters can feel encouraged by the quality of young talent on the pitch today. The team now must ensure that discipline, effort, and desire can secure European football from the 2023/2024 campaign.

Full time: Glentoran 4-0 Crusaders

Glentoran: Webber, Farley, Burns, Kane (c) (McClure 74), Murphy, Kelly, Palmer (O’Neill 46), Douglas, Lindsay (McElhone 62), McLaughlin (Weatherup 74), J Donnelly (Junior 62)

Subs (Not used): McCarey, McToal

Photography by PACEMAKER