Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill pounces to ensure Kearney is still waiting for first win back at Coleraine

Glentoran 2 Coleraine 2

Final say: Paul O’Neill hails his late equaliser
Final say: Paul O’Neill hails his late equaliser
Glens owner Ali Pour (right) and chairman Stephen Henderson
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

Glentoran staged a dramatic fightback to leave Oran Kearney still searching for his first win since his Coleraine return.

They were 2-0 down going into the final 12 minutes at The Oval, but Hrvoje Plum's stunning free-kick sparked a superb recovery.

An entertaining game always threatened goals but it took until the second half for them to come.

The deadlock was broken by Eoin Bradley from the spot, before Aaron Canning's thumping header stretched Coleraine's lead.

But the dismissal of James McLaughlin in the 72nd minute changed the game.

Plum, their stylish Croatian midfielder, halved the deficit, showing his quality with that free-kick. Then, with seven minutes to go, Paul O'Neill levelled.

The first half was entertaining and hinted at the drama to come.

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Glentoran overcame a nervous start to grow into the game, and had the clearest effort of the half from Darren Murray.

It came in the 17th minute when Plum was fouled by Stephen Lowry on the right.

Thomas Byrne's free-kick was played to the back post, where Murray's header came back off the upright.

Coleraine had started on the front foot with a series of early efforts. After four minutes a free-kick from Canning picked out McLaughlin, who headed straight at the goalkeeper.

Six minutes later a long kick from goalkeeper Chris Johns was missed by Gavin Peers and fell to Bradley, whose attempted lob landed just wide.

The Bannsiders' best chance came in the 14th minute.

Again Bradley was involved, pulling the ball across to Jamie Glackin, but 10 yards out he hammered into a defender.

Yet the momentum turned as Glentoran settled, and they came so close to breaking the deadlock through that Murray header.

Eight minutes before the break the Glens were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box.

Plum showed his dead ball skills, getting pace and placement on his effort to draw a fine save from Johns.

The half had produced some spells of eye-catching football and deserved a goal.

It came five minutes into the second half from the penalty spot.

Bradley was brought down by Ross Redman in the area, and he picked his spot and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Coleraine went 2-0 up in the 62nd minute.

It started with a free-kick that was played short to Ben Doherty, whose powerful strike from 25-plus yards was parried over.

From Doherty's corner, Canning rose well to head powerfully past Marijan Antolovic.

The game turned dramatically in the 72nd minute when the Bannsiders were reduced to 10 men.

McLaughlin went in rashly on McClean, resulting in a red card.

Curtis Allen and O'Neill were introduced as the Glens sought to capitalise on their numerical advantage. They gave themselves hope by pulling a goal back 12 minutes from the end.

Plum hit a wicked right-foot effort that bent over the visitors' wall and flew into the top corner.

Their confidence boosted, the Glens pushed strongly for an equaliser and, with seven minutes left, they levelled.

Two subs combined as a cross from the right was touched on by Allen to O'Neill, who stabbed home to make it 2-2.

O'Neill was inches from winning it right at the end, with his low shot flashing past the post.

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