Linfield’s Premiership demise was etched all over the face of manager David Jeffrey following this shattering result.
Even though the words ‘it’s over’ still couldn’t be dragged out of the big man, deep down he knows the Gibson Cup will be in new residence come the end of the season.
Jeffrey, perched motionless against the dug-out, could only stand and watch as his boys pressed the self destruct button at the home of their Big Two rivals.
They led through a first half Philip Lowry goal, but their championship defence was finally undone five minutes from time when Jay Magee lashed home the equaliser from the spot after Martin Murray buckled under a challenge from veteran defender William Murphy.
What makes it even tougher to swallow for Jeffrey is the fact that Glentoran had midfielder Mark Clarke dismissed 20 minutes from the end after a crude ‘stamp’ on Mark McAllister.
In an impromptu chat with the media in the dressing room afterwards, Jeffrey’s body language suggested the fight was over.
He said: “I never criticise my players in public and I’m not going to start now but angry, frustrated and disappointed doesn’t come close to describing how I’m feeling.
“With the ability and experience we have, I expected our players to be able to carry that game through with a 1-0 lead and perhaps to add to it. But we simply couldn’t pass the ball and keep the ball. I’m angry and frustrated.
“I keep saying you never give up on the league title till it’s mathematically over, but today we had a great chance to put pressure on and move into second spot, with the Crusaders game being off, but we didn’t take it.
“It often happens that when teams go down to 10 men, they can be hard to play against, but that is not the reason for our second half performance.
“The sending off certainly galvanised Glentoran. Words fail me and I’m bitterly frustrated, particularly for our supporters. I can’t work out how we can go from the good second half performance at Dungannon last week to such an insipid performance in the second half today.”
Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson admitted he had no complaints about Clarke’s foolish dismissal.
“It was a silly reaction and he deserved to go,” he added. “We should have had a free kick seconds before the incident, but that’s not an excuse.
“I have to say, some of the refereeing decisions baffled me. I lost count of how many of our players were booked for their first challenge – it was farcical.”
Patterson saluted his team’s commitment and determined after being reduced to 10 men.
“If anything the sending off sparked us into life in the second half – I thought we were tremendous,” he added.
“We changed out system, leaving just three at the back, four in midfield and two up top – we showed great determination and composure on the ball. When we got the equaliser, we looked like the team that could go on and win it.
“Credit to the lads... they kept their shape. To be honest, I thought Linfield were bereft of ideas. I’m delighted we got something out of the game.”