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Glentoran go second as Ruaidhri Donnelly nets in win over Cliftonville while Paddy McLaughlin sees red


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Family fortunes: Brothers Ruaidhri and Jay Donnelly celebrate at Solitude

Family fortunes: Brothers Ruaidhri and Jay Donnelly celebrate at Solitude

Inpho/Stephen Hamilton

Family fortunes: Brothers Ruaidhri and Jay Donnelly celebrate at Solitude

Glentoran kept their faint hopes of Gibson Cup glory alive with a late double salvo to see off Cliftonville at Solitude.

Former Reds favourite Ruaidhri Donnelly broke the deadlock just before the hour and substitute Ciaran O'Connor wrapped things up late on.

It moved Mick McDermott's men into second spot in the table, some 10 points behind leaders Linfield.

The Reds entered the contest on the back of one defeat in 14 outings since their last meeting with the Glens and Paddy McLaughlin - who was red-carded by referee Christopher Morrison after the final whistle - named an unchanged side from the one that secured a top-half finish with a 2-1 win in Portadown on Saturday night.

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Paddy McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin

That meant former Glentoran striker Paul O'Neill - a surprise makeweight in the January transfer deadline day deal that took Conor McMenamin to The Oval from Cliftonville - had to make do with a place on the bench against his ex-employers, with in-form duo Michael McCrudden and Ryan Curran once again paired in attack.

Glens boss McDermott, meanwhile, made five amendments to the line-up that began Friday's draw with Coleraine.

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In came the Donnelly brothers, former Reds favourites Ruaidhri and Jay, as well as Chris Gallagher, Joe Crowe and the last-gasp hero of February's victory over last night's opponents Jamie McDonagh.

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Clincher: Glentoran’s Ciaran O’Connor scores at Solitude last night

Clincher: Glentoran’s Ciaran O’Connor scores at Solitude last night

Clincher: Glentoran’s Ciaran O’Connor scores at Solitude last night

While Robbie McDaid and O'Connor were kept in reserve on the bench, Seanan Clucas, Luke McCullough and skipper Marcus Kane missed out altogether as Glentoran - whose back-to-back draws with Coleraine all but ended their title aspirations - aimed to make the most of their game in hand over the Bannsiders in the race for an automatic European place.

Both sides created half-decent chances in the opening minutes with visiting keeper Rory Brown forced to get down low to save a Rory Hale blast through a crowded box before Reds defender Garry Breen got the slightest of touches to divert Jay Donnelly's header over the top.

Some good persistence on the left between Aaron Donnelly and Ryan Curran almost presented an opportunity for McCrudden but Curran's pass rolled behind his strike partner.

Breen then used his head to charge down a Jay Donnelly strike before the same player was thwarted by a timely Ryan O'Reilly block.

The injury-enforced withdrawal of O'Reilly at the interval would, however, provide the hosts with some unwelcome unfamiliarity at the heart of their defence, where midfielder Liam Bagnall dropped back to link up with Breen.

While it was the Reds who carved out the first chance of the second half - Hale screwing wide - it wasn't long before the Glens broke the deadlock, Jay Donnelly slipping Andy Mitchell in on the left side of the box and, when he rolled the ball across the face of goal, Ruaidhri Donnelly was on hand to finish things off.

Glentoran gifted long stretches of possession to their hosts but, crucially, remained well drilled at the back to ensure Cliftonville were unable to really test keeper Brown.

That, in turn, gave the Glens ample opportunity to strike on the counter and they almost sealed the points through Jay Donnelly, whose long-range strike whistled inches over.

Donnelly would, however, be integral to the goal that finally killed off Cliftonville's fading hopes. He worked himself some space inside the box and, though Aaron McCarey saved his shot, the ball fell favourably for O'Connor, whose low attempt took a nick off Breen and in.

Cliftonville: McCarey, Breen, O'Reilly (Doherty 46), C Curran (Kearns 64) , O'Connor, R Curran, McCrudden (O'Neill 64), Donnelly, Bagnall, Hale, Lowe.

Unused subs: Dunne, Foster, Casey, Coffey.

Glentoran: Brown, Bigirimana, Gallagher, McDonagh (McDaid 56), R Donnelly, Mitchell (Plum 62 (O'Connor 84) , McClean, Crowe, Marron, Marshall, J Donnelly.

Unused subs: Morris, Gorman Stewart,, Cowan.

Referee: Christopher Morrison (Belfast)

Man of the match: Rhys Marshall

Match rating: 6/10


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