Glentoran produced a poor display and deservedly were defeated 3-0 by arch rivals Linfield at The National Stadium. Jonathan Smith was on the bench replaced by Fra McCaffrey returning to the right hand side of Glentoran's front three with Chris Lavery on the other side of Curtis Allen. Along with Lavery, Stephen Rice made his first Big Two appearance for Glentoran in midfield alongside Jonny Addis and Ciaran Caldwell whilst the back four remained unchanged.
Before kick off tributes were payed by both clubs to ex-players who have passed away, for Glentoran it was Robert Craig. On the 7th minute of the game Glentoran fans rose in applause at Craig's squad number as a further act of remembrance.
The game started with a bit of needle when Mark Stafford and Calum Birney clashed from an early corner. Jay Magee got involved and there was pushing and shoving from both sides. Unfortunately the needle didn't carry on and Glentoran produced a nothing display with very little quality on show. Linfield controlled the early stages and Andy Waterworth had a goal ruled out for offside after he tapped in from a Morris save from Gaynor's initial shot.
On the 24th minute Linfield took the lead. From a corner referee Ian McNabb pointed to the penalty spot citing handball against Glentoran captain Marcus Kane. At the time it was hard to see what had happened and from watching pictures on TV it doesn't seem to have made the baffling decision any clearer. Gaynor stuttered his run up but sent Morris the wrong way as Linfield took a 1-0 lead.
Andy Waterworth went close soon after forcing a good save from Elliott Morris while Michael McLellan fired wide from a tight angle. Mark Stafford's header went narrowly over on 44th minute from a corner as by half-time Glentoran didn't even manage a shot.
The first five minutes of the second half offered brief improvement for Glentoran who started positively with a little bit more energy. Glentoran had a golden opportunity to equalise after Curtis Allen nodded a Chris Lavery cross into the path of Fra McCaffrey. Only 6 yards out McCaffery attempted to help the ball goalwards but didn't connect properly as the ball went wide. Perhaps things would have been different had that chance gone in.
Unfortunately from that point, the performance of the first half returned and Glentoran were comfortably outclassed. Andy Waterworth had two half chances whilst Stafford continued to be a threat from set pieces, heading wide of Morris' near post on 59th minute.
On 81st minute Calum Birney was sent off for Glentoran in a bizarre incident. It appeared that Ian McNabb awarded Glentoran a free kick but then produced the red card to Birney. Birney it seemed was yellow carded before a corner was taken and later the referee realised it was his second offence so produced the red. Not Ian McNabb's greatest afternoon.
After Birney's red card any slight chance of a Glentoran challenge faded. Elliott Morris summed up Glentoran's afternoon by passing straight at Aaron Burns who mocked him by sending him the wrong way on his shot; 2-0. Chris Morrow almost offered a positive end for Glentoran flashing an excellent effort against the post. Gaynor had the final say though scoring a third in stoppage time.
3-0 full time.
Glentoran: Morris, Holland, Birney, Magee, Kane (c), Addis, Rice, Caldwell, McCaffery, Lavery, Allen
Subs: Scullion for Lavery, Morrow for Addis, Smith for Caldwell
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.