Danske Premiership - Glentoran 1, Carrick Rangers 0
Glentoran boss Gary Haveron believes that Nacho Nova can finish the season on a high.
The 37 year old last night grabbed a priceless winner for the East Belfast side against struggling Carrick Rangers at the Oval which moved them into seventh place in the league table -- and keeps the in the shake up for a European play-off spot at the end of the season.
“Nacho has had a terrible time with injury this season and we are at last beginning to see the best of him,” said Haveron. “His goal was crucial to us because it’s important we hold on to that seventh place in the table.
"It's financially important to be in with a chance of the Euro qualifiers -- anything can happen.
“We now go into the split with back to back wins for only the second time this season, so we have to take heart from that.”
Amazingly, it was the Glens’ first win in front of the home fans since November 26 -- and it’s only the fourth time they’ve take three points from a league fixture a the Oval this season!
Former Glentoran man Steven McCullough came within inches of opening the scoring after only seven minutes when his fierce free kick from 25 yards fizzed inches past the post after James Ferrin had flattened Martin Murray.
The home team responded with Chris Lavery trying his luck from distance, which was deflected over his own crossbar by big Paddy McNally.
Carrick midfielder Chris Morrow produced a wonderful piece of skill on 28 minutes when he picked up a knock down form Sean Noble, but his volley inched just over the top.
Novo was also left holding his head in frustration on 34 minutes. He dusted himself down after being hauled down by clumsy challenge from Kyle McVey, but his well struck free kick drifted over the crossbar, much to the relief off Brian Neeson.
Noble created the best opportunity of the first half for the East Antrim boys when his surging run took him clear of the Glens defence and, when he cut the ball across the face of the goal, striker Fabio O’Brien just failed to get a telling touch.
Novo gave the home fans something to cheer less than 60 seconds after the restart by shooting the Glens into the lead.
It was Lavery’s trickery on the left that carved out the chance and when he sent a low cross into the middle, Novo the the rest with his outstretched boot.
Rangers attempted to come back off the ropes with O’Brien picking out Noble, but the big striker hoofed the effort wildly over the crossbar.
But it was live wire Conal Delaney who almost hit a killer second for the home team. After bamboozling the Rangers defence with a piece of individual brilliance, he could only shoot across the face of goal when it looked easier to score.
Glentoran had a chance to put the game to bed three minutes from time when Paddy McNally was rather harshly penalised for handling an Allen header.
Neeson, however, produced an astonishing save to keep out Allen’s spot kick.
Man of the match: Nacho Novo
Glentoran: Morris, Magee, Allen, Novo (Smith 90), Lavery, McAlorum, McAuley, Addis, Redman, Ferrin, Delaney (Sterling 91).
Unused subs: O’Flynn, Cafolla, Nelson.
Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Smyth (Elder 83), McVey, McNally, McCullough, TJ Murray, M Murray, Morrow, Kelly, O’Brien, Noble (Clarke 72).
Unused subs: McConnell, Chapman, Taggart.
Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey).
Match rating: 5/10