Conal Delaney shines for formidable Glens to edge out brave Star
Glentoran 4-2 Crumlin Star
Glentoran's impressive start to the campaign continues. Gary Haveron's men have shone in the league so far this season and last night they overcame Crumlin Star in an entertaining clash in the first round of the Toals Co Antrim Shield.
Crumlin striker Gary Lavery may have netted two magnificent goals, but Tiernan McNicholl, Steven Gordon, Jonathan Smith and Eoghan McCawl were all on target as the Oval outfit emerged victorious.
Right about now positivity is oozing through the east Belfast club - a welcome change from too much negativity in recent times.
With Irish Premiership leaders Coleraine coming to the Oval on Saturday, Glentoran boss Haveron rested his big hitters for the visit of the Northern Amateur League outfit, but those who came into the starting line-up didn't let him down.
While the standard of opposition must be taken into account, credit to the Glens players for stepping up and taking their opportunity. One was Conal Delaney on the right wing.
He may never gain the status of legendary Oval figures like Jonny Jameson and Glen Little, who excelled in that position, but he had his moments against Crumlin including straight from kick-off when he weaved his way past several defenders with his speed and trickery.
That set the tone for the Glens and they kept their foot on the gas in a dominant first half.
It was from a daring Delaney run through the middle, followed by a clever pass, that the home side took the lead with McNicholl dinking the ball over Crumlin goalkeeper Ciaran McNeill in the 22nd minute.
Gordon, who moments before had an audacious 40 yard effort cleared off the line by a defender, doubled the advantage on 37 minutes with a fine strike from the edge of the box. Smith made it three on 40 heading in Eric Foley's inviting free-kick from a couple of yards out.
If the opening two goals had a touch of quality about them, Smith was allowed to score far too easily. Crumlin boss Paul Trainor, part of Eddie Patterson's management team when the Glens won the Irish Cup in 2013 and 2015, would have been livid with that.
Two minutes into the second half, however, he was smiling when Lavery produced a stunning 35-yard free-kick which sailed into the net.
Any Crumlin hopes of an incredible comeback were dashed on 55 minutes when new signing McCawl showed composure and class inside the box to stroke the ball beyond McNeill and into the net.
Mind you his effort was average in comparison to another spectacular goal from the gifted Lavery on 64 minutes. The Crumlin number nine smashed a belter into the top corner with his left foot - again from 35 yards. It's clearly his distance. No wonder the Glentoran fans applauded in appreciation.
They weren't so gracious on 89 minutes when referee Steven Gregg awarded a dubious penalty to Crumlin after Aiden McNeill went down in the box. Substitute Miguel Chines failed to set up a grandstand finish when he blazed the spot-kick over the bar.
Another win for the Glens... Coleraine come next.
Glentoran: Nelson, Sterling, Foley, Kelly, Delaney, Nelson, Gordon, Ferrin, Smith, McNicholl, McCawl. Subs: Kerr for Sterling, McMullan for Foley. Subs not used: McGuigan, Allen, Addis.
Crumlin Star: McNeill, Hawkins, McNeill, K McLaughlin, Berne, McNeill, Prigent, Halfpenny, Lavery, Trainor, McKervey. Subs: Chines for McKervey, Savage for Lavery. Subs not used: Beattie, C McLaughlin, Fearon.
Referee: Steven Gregg (Ballyclare)