Glentoran boss Kernaghan keeps cool as his men book £160k showdown
Glentoran boss Alan Kernaghan praised his stars as they held off a late rally from Coleraine at the Showgrounds to move within 90 minutes of a place in Europe and the £160,000 bonus that comes with it.
Calum Birney's first goal in seven months put Kernaghan's men on their way in the first-half of a hard-fought game before Curtis Allen headed his 22nd goal of the season to secure a 2-1 win and safe passage for the Glens into Tuesday's Europa League play-off against Cliftonville at Solitude.
Coleraine substitute Jamie McGonigle pulled a goal back late on, but they couldn't find an equaliser to take the game into extra time.
Kernaghan said: "I thought we deserved the result, but we are only at halfway there with the game against Cliftonville to come.
"Coleraine tried to muscle us out of it, but we overcame that and scored two very good goals."
Coleraine manager Oran Kearney was far from happy with some of the decisions made by referee Andrew Davey.
The official came under fire when Glentoran took the lead after a controversial offside verdict had denied Coleraine the opening goal. One of Davey's assistants flagged when the Bannsiders found the net through Neil McCafferty's smashing strike after Ian Parkhill's shot had crashed against the bar.
McCafferty's celebrations were cut short and Davey was besieged by angry Coleraine players who disputed the call.
To make matters worse, the Glens went in front just minutes after. With 32 minutes gone Allen cut a precision pass inside for Birney and his looping shot left goalkeeper Chris Johns stranded
Kearney said: "Some of the decisions against us were baffling. No one can understand how our goal was ruled out."
Coleraine missed early chances in the game. Winger Darren McCauley couldn't capitalise on a slip up in the Glens defence, sending his shot off target from the edge of the box.
Keeper Johns was lucky to escape unscathed when his casual attempted clearance cannoned off Jonathan Smith just a few yards in front of him. The former Southampton stopper was relieved to smother the rebound.
Johnny Addis carved out a chance to shoot only to send his shot across the face of goal. Then Allen smashed an attempt into the side netting.
The decision to wipe out McCafferty's strike was the turning point of the game and tempers flared in the tunnel at half-time as the players trooped off.
When play resumed Parkhill headed substitute Ruaidhri Higgins' corner over the bar as Coleraine searched for an equaliser, but Allen put another nail in the Bannsiders' coffin when he headed in Chris Lavery's superb left-wing cross after 58 minutes.
Back came Coleraine and substitute Jamie McGonigle headed a goal that threatened to send Glentoran into panic mode when he met McCauley's cross, but the east-Belfast held on for the victory.
COLERAINE: Johns, Kane, Beverland, Douglas, Mullan, McCafferty, Harkin (Higgins 33 mins), McCauley, Brown (McLaughlin 53 mins), Parkhill, Morrow (McGonigle 64 mins). Subs not used: Doherty, Ogilby.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Holland, Birney, Addis, Magee, Caldwell, Smith (McKee 67 mins), McCaffrey (McCullough 88 mins) Nelson, Lavery, Allen. Subs not used: Hogg, Gibson, Cafolla.
Man of the Match: Curtis Allen
Match rating: 7/10.
Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor)