Glentoran exit but the future looks brighter
Glentoran 1-1Sligo Rovers (Sligo won 3-1 on aggregate)
Glentoran bowed out of the Setanta Sports Cup on Tuesday night at the hands of Sligo Rovers, but did so with their heads held high.
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg it was always going to be a difficult task and, although they pulled a goal back through a superb Sean Ward effort, they couldn't find another goal to at least take the game into extra time.
Sligo then scored a last minute penalty to earn a 1-1 draw and book their place in the last four.
The Glens began brightly, playing in a formation which saw Aidan O'Kane sit in front of the back four and Stephen Carson in a free role behind the front men.
It looked like it might reap rewards, too, as Carson, still one of the most intelligent and skilful players in the Carling Premiership, able to pick out passes that others wouldn't even see.
Indeed, that was evident as early as the eighth minute when the former Coleraine man threaded a fine through ball to the onrushing Andrew Waterworth who, cutting in from the left, forced Rovers defender Danny Ventre to turn his shot away for a corner, which came to nothing.
Carson was running the show at this stage and 10 minutes later after twisting and turning on the left, he eventually found space for a cross, finding Waterworth unmarked but the striker failed to connect with a ball that landed right in front of him.
Rovers' first real effort on goal arrived soon after but Danny North's drive was smothered at the second attempt by Aaron Hogg who had come in for regular custodian Elliott Morris.
Ward then opened the scoring on 21 minutes with one of the goals of the season.
Picking up the ball 10 yards inside the Sligo half, the defender drove forward and before anyone came near him let fly with a bullet of a shot from almost 30 yards which crashed into the top corner.
Eamonn Murray flew down the right and shot across goal on 34 minutes as the Glens kept up the hunt for goals, while at the other end Lee Lynch tried his luck from distance three minutes later with his shot fizzing just past the post.
The second half lacked the spark of the first and that became even more apparent in the 72nd minute when the Oval descended into darkness as the floodlights went off.
Following a near 20 minute delay the teams returned to the pitch and the game was even less lively as a result of the break.
Calum Birney fouled Romauld Boco in the last minute and North blasted in the penalty to end any Glentoran hopes.
Glentoran: Hogg, O'Kane, Ward, Birney, Hill, E Murray (Boyce 90), Clarke, Callacher, Carson, Waterworth, Knight. Subs: Morris, Martyn, Gibson, M Murray, McGovern, Johnston.
Sligo Rovers: Brush, Keane, Peers, Ventre, Daveron, Cawley (Cretaro 70), Lynch, Gaynor, North, Boco, Quigley (Ndo 78). Subs: Rogers, Dillon, Owen, Martin, Dykes.
Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon).