COLERAINE squandered the chance of earning their first win of the season as Glentoran battled from two goals down to earn a draw at The Oval…
The visitors started brightly and threatened after four minutes when James McLaughlin’s header forced Marijan Antolovic into a save, before Chris Johns was called into action at the other end to prevent Hrvoje Plum’s strike from finding the back of the net. On seven minutes, Coleraine missed the chance to take the lead as a long ball forward by Johns was misread by Glentoran defender Gavin Peers and this allowed Eoin Bradley through on goal, but his lobbed effort sailed wide.
There would be more frustration four minutes later as Bradley’s tremendous knockdown found strike partner McLaughlin outside the area, but the marksman failed to find the target. Another tremendous opportunity would land at the feet of Jamie Glackin who had a goal bound effort blocked at close range by Peers following a dangerous cross by Bradley.
Remarkably, the home side almost broke the deadlock with their first chance of the match as Darren Murray’s header crashed against the post from eight yards. This sparked Mick McDermott’s troops into life and they threatened again on 22 minutes as a fantastic team move ended with John Herron arrowing wide from Thomas Byrne’s cut back.
Before the half-time whistle, Stripes ‘keeper Johns had to be alert to palm away Plum’s well driven free-kick.
The second-half was just five minutes old when Coleraine were awarded a penalty as Bradley was brought down inside the area by Glentoran full-back Ross Redman. The ball was grabbed by Bradley – who was making his 100th start for the club – and he sent Antolovic the wrong way to make it two goals in as many games.
The Bannsiders were looking to add to their advantage as Glackin had a free-kick saved, before Ben Doherty fired a shot over the crossbar. However, on 62 minutes, the lead was doubled as Aaron Canning rose highest from a corner to powerfully guide the ball into the top corner.
The game changed on its head on 72 minutes as McLaughlin was given his marching orders by referee Lee Tavinder for a foul on Patrick McClean. From the resulting free-kick, the Glens almost grabbed a lifeline as Murray and Robbie McDaid combined to tee up substitute Curtis Allen but Johns saved.
The deficit was reduced to a single goal on 75 minutes as Stephen Lowry was adjudged to have fouled 25 yards out from goal. The impressive Plum – who joined the Glens from Croatian side NK Osijek in the summer – found the top corner with a sublime set piece.
Glentoran brought on teenage striker Paul O’Neill and it proved to be a masterstroke as he slotted home the equaliser on 83 minutes after prodding home from close range. The Coleraine team looked tired and Glentoran sensed a winner which almost arrived on 90 minutes as O’Neill’s daisy cutter went inches by the far post as both teams had to settle for a point.
GLENTORAN: Antolovic, Peers, Herron, Murray, McDaid, McClean, Byrne (Allen ’72 mins), Crowe, Redman (Van Overbeek ’65 mins), Plum, Smith (O’Neill ’74 mins).
Subs Not Used: Morris (GK), Birney, Frazer, Gordon.
COLERAINE: Johns, Mullan, Canning, Doherty, Lowry, McLaughlin, Bradley (Gawne ’88 mins), Carson, McConaghie, O’Donnell, Glackin.
Subs Not Used: Doherty (GK), Kane, Douglas, Burns, Shiels, McGuckin.
Referee: Lee Tavinder