Glentoran staged a bit of a second half fightback at the National Stadium this evening but ended up with nothing to show for their efforts. Yet again slack defending and ill discipline proved costly to the East Belfast side.
The home side dominated the first 20 minutes or so but despite their possession, failed to trouble Glentoran's Dwayne Nelson who was in goal due to Elliott Morris having a back injury. It took 26 minutes for the Glens to register their first effort on goal; Allen fed Murray who returned the ball nicely to the Glentoran number 9. Unfortunately Allen's effort flew high and wide of the target. 10 minutes from the interval the home side were awarded a penalty. Joel Cooper was given too much space on the left and he flashed a shot across goal. In the resulting play Millar had a chance to cross but the ball was put behind by Redman for a corner. When the ball arrived in the box Crowe was adjudged to have fouled Robinson on the 6-yard line and the referee pointed to the spot. Stewart took the penalty and beat Nelson comfortably.
On 41 minutes it was 2-nil. Millar was given far too much time and space on the right wing and was under no pressure as he put a cross into the box. Waterworth got a slight touch but the ball reached Glentoran skipper, Birney who could only direct it past his own keeper. Two down at the break and most Glentoran fans expected manager, Gary Smyth to make changes. He didn't but it was obviously a more insired and positive Glentoran that came out for the second half. The game was back in the mix on 53 minutes. Redman's throw found Gallagher and he swung a delightful ball into the danger area where Allen was on hand to nip in and knock it past the Linfield keeper.
Three minutes later the Glens were level! Gallagher robbed Millar near the corner of the 18-yard box and curled in a cross towards the near post. Murray's diving header was kept out by a combination of the keeper and the post but the ball fell to McDaid who drilled it home. On 74 minutes the Blues went back in front, substitute Kearns getting to the by-line and cutting the ball back for Casement to score. A minute later and the Glens were reduced to 10 men, Crowe being shown a second yellow card for a little kick at O'Connor's heels just after the ball had gone. In truth it could have been a straight red. Stupidity personified. The game was as good as over....or was it? On 79 minutes McClean mis-controlled the ball and Allen nipped in. McClean's out of control lunge on Allen was reckless in the extreme. It was by far the worst challenge of the game but deemed just a yellow card by the referee! 5 minutes from time O'Connor made it 4-2 and although Kane went close in the final minute with a header which flashed just wide of the post, the Glens ultimately came up short again.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: Nelson, Kerr, Birney (c), Crowe, Redman, Pepper, Herron (Kane 79), Gallagher, McDaid, Allen & Murray (Peers79).