Belfast Telegraph

McClean's piece of magic seals it for Glentoran in thriller

Larne 2-3 Glentoran

Goalden boys: Glentoran's Paul O'Neill celebrates his second strike
Goalden boys: Glentoran's Paul O'Neill celebrates his second strike
Paddy McClean after netting the winner

By Ian Cahoon

Paddy McClean celebrated his new contract with Glentoran by scoring a spectacular winner to settle a five-goal thriller at Inver Park.

The former Derry City defender, who earlier in the day signed a two-year extension at The Oval, chested the ball down and unleashed an overhead kick into the roof of the net to clinch three points in an end-to-end game televised live by the BBC.

Two goals from striker Paul O'Neill had given Glentoran a half-time lead, after Mark Randall's stunning early free-kick.

Sean Graham brought the match level 10 minutes into the second half, only for McClean to win it late on.

It was the second time the sides had met in the space of three days, the first being a 3-2 win for the Glens after extra-time in the County Antrim Shield.

The home side made the best possible start as they took the lead with not even four minutes on the clock.

Marty Donnelly's run on goal was abruptly ended just over 20 yards out.

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Donnelly and Randall stood over the free-kick and it was the latter who stepped up and curled a beautiful effort off the post and in past the despairing dive of keeper Marijan Antolovic.

Two goals inside as many minutes from O'Neill then turned the game on its head.

On 19 minutes Conor Pepper's throw-in on the right caused confusion inside the box, with the ball making its way to O'Neill. He took a touch and lashed it into the corner past Conor Devlin.

Two minutes later the away side were in the lead in controversial circumstances. With Larne pressing to retake the lead, David McDaid went down under a challenge from Antolovic but Andrew Davey waved away strong protests for a penalty.

Within 30 seconds the ball was in the back of the Larne net. Glentoran broke at pace and Chris Gallagher fed the ball to O'Neill just inside the Larne half. He made up ground and fired past Devlin from 20 yards out.

The Invermen finished the first period strongly and in the last minute of the half, Randall lofted a fine through ball to McDaid, who was breaking into the box. However, Antolovic came rushing out to smother the ball.

Larne started the second half as they finished the first.

They had their reward on 55 minutes when they levelled the game after great work from Tomas Cosgrove on the right flank.

He picked up Donnelly's pass and broke into the box. He squared the ball for McDaid and the striker laid it off for Graham to drill home with his right foot.

Larne, with their tails up, almost retook the lead four minutes later when Randall sent a rasping effort goalwards from all of 30 yards, but Antolovic turned it around the post at full stretch.

Not to be undone, three minutes later the Glens almost scored from even further out when defender McClean unleashed a half-volley from all of 45 yards, which looked destined for the top corner, only for Devlin to somehow tip over the bar for a corner.

Larne were pushing for the winner and Antolovic had to be alert to save Donnelly's low effort.

The winner came at the other end however, with Cameron Stewart winning the knockdown for McClean to take a touch on his chest and hook the ball over his shoulder into the roof of the net, much to the delight of the sizeable away support behind the goal.

Larne: Devlin, Flowers, Kelly, Watson (McEleney 76), Sule, Randall, McDaid, Donnelly, Graham (McKendry 87), Cosgrove, McMurray

Unused subs: Mitchell, Ramsey, Tilney, Lynch, Gilmour

Glentoran: Antolovic, Kane, Peers, Gallagher, McDaid, McClean, Pepper, Nasseri (Herron 59), O'Neill (Stewart 69), Plum, Van Overbeek

Unused subs: Morris, Garrett, Frazer, Crowe

Referee: Andrew Davey

Man of the match: Paul O'Neill

Match rating: 9/10

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