The Glens made it through to the quarter-finals of the 'Samuel Gelston's Irish Whiskey Irish Cup with a comfortable win over Portadown at Shamrock Park this afternoon. Two goals from Jay Donnelly and a wonder strike from Niall McGinn decided the tie but manager, Rodney McAree also had the added bonus of welcoming Conor McMenamin back and seeing new signing, Chukwuemeka Uzokwe (Junior) have a decent debut.
Aaron Wightman started at right-back in place of the injured Rhys Marshall with Rory Donnelly starting in Wightman's right midfield position. It was the headline maker from last Monday night's game, Shay McCartan who was the main threat in the early stages. With just 4 minutes played he got on the end of a Niall McGinn cross but saw his effort deflected behind for a corner. Then a minute later he went for goal from around 25 yards but this attempt was straight at Ondrej Mastny in the Portadown goal and he gathered it comfortably. Portadown then went close through Reece Jordan but his curling effort from the edge of the area went wide of the far post.
Rory Donnelly was felled just outside the box on 10 minutes. Shay McCartan took the free kick but his attempt went narrowly over the bar. McCartan then fired another dangerous ball into the penalty area. It broke for Terry Devlin but the young midfielder, who had another excellent game, saw his shot take a deflection and go inches wide of the post. Jay Donnelly then had two chances in quick succession. A cross from Marcus Kane broke for him in the box but he fired over and then on 22 minutes he was denied the opening goal by a last ditch tackle from Lee Upton. Niall McGinn's clever back heel gave Bobby Burns an opportunity but his low shot was well saved by Ondrej Mastny.
The opening goal arrived on 28 minutes. Aaron Wightman's flicked the ball to Bobby Burns and he, in turn, played a superb through ball for Jay Donnelly. This time Donnelly got the better of Lee Upton before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner from the right corner of the 6-yard box. It might have been 2-nil just 4 minutes later. Another delightful pass from Bobby Burns picked out Niall McGinn on the left and his cross was met sweetly by Rory Donnelly. Unfortunately Glentoran's number 10 was denied by an excellent defensive block.
Following 3 successive corners the Glens should have doubled their lead when the ball fell to Rory Donnelly in space inside the penalty area but his strike came back off the crossbar. Portadown missed the chance to level things up 3 minutes before the break. A cross from the right found Alan O'Sullivan in the area but he was unable to gain control or test Aaron McCarey. The Glens then broke straight down the other end and Jay Donnelly thought he'd made it 2 only to see his 'goal' rule out by an offside flag!
Halftime: Portadown 0-1 Glentoran
Ports keeper, Ondrej Mastny was in action early in the second half, producing a fine save to deny Shay McCartan. But the game was then decided by 2 goals in 2 minutes, both excellent finishes. Alan O'Sullivan's attempted clearance was blocked by Marcus Kane and Niall McGinn picked the ball up close to the left touchline, midway into the Portadown half. He was allowed to carry the ball unchallenged before unleashing an unstoppable right-footed shot from 25 yards. The ball flew into the top corner of the net with Ondrej Mastny completely helpless.
On 56 minutes Jay Donnelly, who had been subjected to vile, sickening abuse from the home fans throughout, answered in the best possible way with number 3. Shay McCartan, Rory Donnelly and Niall McGinn combined before the Northern Ireland international fed Aaron Wightman. His cross was headed straight up into the air by Lee Chapman and as the ball dropped, Jay caught it on the volley. The Portadown keeper got a touch to the ball but such was the ferocity of the shot, he couldn't keep it out of the net.
With the Glens in a comfortable position, manager Rodney McAree was able to make a number of changes, giving several of the squad valuable minutes playing time. The large travelling support were delighted to welcome Conor McMenamin back into the action and there was also a first glimpse of new signing, Junior. 10 minutes from time 3 of the substitutes, Joe Crowe, Hrvoje Plum and Conor McMenamin combined well before McMenamin put in a great cross which just eluded Junior and Terry Devlin. As the game entered its final stages Jay Donnelly again had the ball in the net, having collected an excellent flick from Junior. He was to be denied the match ball though by another raised flag by the assistant referee.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Wightman, Kane (c), McCullough (Singleton 59), Wilson, Burns (Plum 65), Devlin, R. Donnelly (McMenamin 59), McCartan (Crowe 77), J. Donnelly & McGinn (Junior 65)