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Roy Coyle in battle cry after Jonathan Smith late show saves Glentoran blushes

Co Antrim Shield: Ballyclare Com 0-1 Glentoran

By David Mason

Published 21/09/2016

Tussle: Ballyclare Comrades’ Michael O’Hanlon holds off the challenges from Glentoran’s Calum Birney (left) and Aaron Harmon
Tussle: Ballyclare Comrades’ Michael O’Hanlon holds off the challenges from Glentoran’s Calum Birney (left) and Aaron Harmon

Just when Glentoran's season appeared to be stumbling from crisis to crisis, Jonathan Smith struck a priceless goal that caretaker boss Roy Coyle believes could kick-start their season.

Having already been dumped out of the League Cup by lowly Annagh United, the ailing east Belfast side were staring down the barrel of a County Antrim Shield shock.

They huffed and puffed for 105 minutes and, with a penalty shoot-out looming, young Smith conjured up a winner - much to the relief of the frustrated travelling fans.

"A lot of people assumed we could be victims of another cup shock," said Coyle, who has taken over team affairs since Alan Kernaghan's exit, following that Annagh debacle. "It wasn't a top class performance, but we got a result and a clean sheet, which is something we haven't experienced much this season.

"The players know and I know they didn't perform as well as they can. However, a result like that can help kick-start our season. I know it wasn't pretty. Credit to Ballyclare, they are a tidy unit. I don't like talking about ugly wins... it's a win that can give the players the confidence and belief for the next game which is at Ballymena United."

With no appointment imminent - although former Carrick Rangers boss Gary Haveron was in the crowd - Coyle will be in charge, for what could be the last time, at the Showgrounds.

The Glens were again without marquee summer signing Nacho Novo, who was out with a groin injury, but he could return at the weekend.

With the night gloom descending fast and a floodlighting system far from adequate, it was Smith who had the first sight of goal.

Following an exhilarating 20-yard dash, the young striker blasted a low drive inches wide, much to the relief of home goalkeeper Ross McKnight.

The Glens were right out of luck on 19 minutes. Eric Foley's thundering 25-yard free-kick was expertly pawed away by McKnight only for Curtis Allen to gobble up the rebound, but the teenage shotstopper again got down to save.

Comrades' goal led a charmed life at times - and the home side rode their luck on 37 minutes when defender Ross Redman whipped in a free-kick from the left, which scooted off the boot of defender Gary Brown, who unwittingly blazed the ball past his own post. Glentoran really should have been in front seconds later. Brown had his pocket picked in the centre circle by Chris Lavery, but with only McKnight to beat, he hoisted his effort high and wide.

Comrades could have nicked the lead in extra-time, with Taggart picking out Michael O'Hanlon, who dinked his shot just over. But the Glens at last had something to celebrate with that Smith strike, five minutes from the end of extra time. Redman's deep cross to the back post wasn't dealt with and the young striker pounced to head home.

BALLYCLARE COMRADES: McKnight, Brown (Taggart 56'), McQuitty, Youle, Shannon, McMullan, Dobbin, O'Hanlon, Johnston, Robinson (Gray 56'), Trussell.

Subs not used: Irwin, Dillon, Crowe.

GLENTORAN: Nelson, McAuley, Ferrin, Birney, Redman, Harmon, Foley, Gordon, Lavery (Leu 70'), Smith, Allen.

Subs not used: Morris, Caldwell, Hamill, Delaney.

Scorer: Smith (104')

Match rating: 5/10

Belfast Telegraph

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