Belfast Telegraph

Glenavon and Linfield target Glentoran striker while Cooper could go on Oval loan deal

By Alex Mills

Joel Cooper may have agreed to join Linfield in the summer, but there is a possibility of him moving to Glentoran for the remainder of the season.

The Glenavon winger ended weeks of speculation by signing a pre-contract with the Blues - and his current club have explored the option of pushing the move through this month in a swap deal that would see Jordan Stewart head to Mourneview Park.

Though Linfield have so far rebuffed that idea, Glentoran have provided another twist in the tail.

For Oval boss Gary Haveron would be happy for Cooper to move to east Belfast on a short-term arrangement, with young striker Jonathan Smith moving to Glenavon.

Haveron also confirmed that Linfield have submitted a letter with a view to signing Smith, who is currently out of favour at the Glens.

Unfortunately for Haveron, it was business as usual for his boys at the weekend - they have won only once in front of home fans in five months and, almost inexplicably, that was against the Blues on Boxing Day.

They were a goal down within 25 seconds of Lee Tavinder's first blast of the whistle against title-chasing Coleraine on Saturday and just never recovered.

Eoin Bradley gobbled up a pass from Jamie McGonigle and, after leaving Johnny Addis in his wake, he fired past a startled Elliott Morris.

After the great start, the game developed into an untidy affair of misplaced passes and late tackles with precious little skill on show.

The big talking point arrived 10 minutes from the finish when referee Tavinder awarded the Bannsiders a penalty kick after Josh Carson had buckled under the outstretched boot of Addis.

Harkin and Darren McCauley, who missed from the spot against Dungannon Swifts a fortnight ago, almost came to fisticuffs over who was taking on the responsibility of hitting the penalty.

Clearly upset, McCauley even got his manager Oran Kearney involved.

Harkin, however, was determined to hold on to the ball and he did eventually despatch an unstoppable drive into the top corner.

Kearney was determined not to let the incident tarnish what he described as a 'professional performance' which helps keep the Bannsiders on the tails of table-topping Crusaders.

"I don't want that incident to detract from the performance," said Kearney. "It's never an easy place to visit, but we produced a professional display, which got us the points we were after."

The Coleraine chief, however, admitted he was to blame for the penalty kick controversy, adding: "The unwritten rule for me, is you take penalties until you miss, then someone else takes it on," he added.

"When Darren missed his last penalty, I didn't address the situation. So, there was a bit of confusion. It was my fault."

Glentoran chief Haveron admitted his boys never recovered from the horrible start.

"I told the boys to keep it tight for the first 20 minutes, to be physically and mentally prepared, but that all went out of the window early doors," he said.

"I thought we were denied a stonewall penalty when Robbie McDaid was hauled down in the second half - the defender has gone all over the top of him."

• Coleraine's hopes of signing Linfield midfielder Aaron Burns have been rekindled after a potential move to Crawley Town collapsed at the weekend.

GLENTORAN: Morris, Kane, Birney, Addis, Kelly (McDaid, 46 mins), Allen, McGuigan, Davidson, Kerr, Knowles, Nelson (Redman, 16 mins). Unused subs: Gordon, McNicholl, Smith.

COLERAINE: Johns, Kane, McCauley, Smith, Bradley, McConaghie, Lyons (Harkin, 33 mins), O'Donnell, Traynor, McGonigle (Parkhill, 77 mins), Dooley (Carson, 23 mins). Unused subs: Mullan, Douglas.

Referee: Lee Tavinder (Dungannon)

Man of the match: Gareth McConaghie

Belfast Telegraph

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