Glentoran 0 Carrick Rangers 0
Mick McDermott’s boys once again flattered to deceive against gusty Carrick Rangers on Friday night – and they now trail Danske Bank Premiership leaders by six points.
The east Belfast side have now won only one of their last five league games – it’s hardly the credentials of champions.
They started badly and gradually got worse. Niall Currie’s team defended stoutly and put their bodies on the line when needed. It’s the first time this season Glentoran have failed to get the better of their opponents.
Ruaidhri Donnelly, Glentoran’s mid-winter high profile signing from Cliftonville at last made his first appearance. He was due to appear against Coleraine last weekend but sustained a freak back injury at home, but he was hauled off midway through the second half – hardly debut he’ll remember
Manager Mick McDermott finally ran out of patience with blundering goalkeeper Marijan Antolovic, who was dumped to the substitutes bench with veteran shot stopper Elliott Morris given the nod.
Striker Darren Murray was unavailable to feature for Rangers due to the fact that he is currently on loan from Glentoran.
Rangers, of course, approached the game in the back of an impressive win at Ballymena United last weekend and they again displayed a hunger and passion that will guarantee their Premiership survival,
Following the early sparring McDaid burst into action on 10 minutes, sending a vicious dipping volley that stung the hands of goalkeeper Harry Doherty, following a delicious pass from Navid Nasseri.
And, the same two players combined nine minutes later with the little Iranian sending McDaid through the left channel, only to see his low shot beaten out by Doherty this time.
It was all one-way traffic. The tricky Nasseri was hauled down by a clumsy challenge by Mark Surgenor, but once again Doherty came out best in the duel with McDaid, whose low 25-yard free kick stuck to the shot-stopper’s glove.
Although the Glens kept probing and prodding, their final ball let them down at times. New boy Donnelly did manage to thread a ball into the path of Andrew Mitchell, but his weak effort failed to trouble that man Doherty.
With half-time clock ticking down, the home side threatened again. Gavin Peers free kick was flicked on by Marcus Kane, but Donnelly failed to generate any power in his header.
Then, just seconds before the whistle, McDaid again bore down on goal, only to see his effort blocked by a combination of Surgenor and Kyle Cherry.
Incredibly, Rangers almost stole the lead with their first attempt at goal – a fierce 20-yard volley form Reece Neale that Elliott Morris did well to paw over the top.
Then from a Neale free kick – after Kane had chopped down Mark Carson – lanky Caolan Loughran hoofed a half-chance into the side netting.
The action quickly switched to the other end and, it took another wonder save from Doherty to deny Patrick McClean, whose towering, from a Nasseri corner kick, looked destined for the top corner.
With frustration creeping in, the Glens went for broke, realizing valuable points were slipping away.
Doherty again produced heroics when beating out a point blank header from Kane before he denied McDaid, who looked likely scorer.
The Glens were almost punished right at the end when substitute Daniel Reynolds rounded Morris only to see his shot clip the post.
Glentoran: Morris, Kane, Peers, Gallagher, McDaid, McClean, Nasseri (Frazer 81), Crowe, Mitchell (Van Overbeek 57), Marron, Donnelly (Matulevicius 69).
Unused subs: Garrett, O’Neill, Antolovic, O’Connor
Carrick Rangers: Doherty, Carson, Neale, Surgenor, Loughran, G Kelly, Magill (Rodgers 46), Smith, Cherry, Gawne (Reynolds 81), Anderson.(Faulkner 71)
Unused subs: Nicholl, Rodgers, Hassin, Colligan, E Kelly.
REFEREE: Keith Kennedy.
Man of the match: Harry Doherty.
Match rating 4/10