IRISH LEAGUE: Ciaran Caldwell goal earns Glentoran 1-0 victory over Dungannon Swifts at The Oval
GLENTORAN 1 DUNGANNON SWIFTS 0
Nacho Novo came off the bench to make his competitive debut as Glentoran kicked off the new Danske Bank Premiership season with a 1-0 win.
Novo – the Glens’ marquee summer signing – replaced Jonathan Smith in the second half as Alan Kernaghan’s side saw off Dungannon Swifts at The Oval.
The Spaniard’s arrival in the 67th minute earned rapturous applause from the home stands, but it was Ciaran Caldwell who eclipsed the former Rangers star with a clinical second half strike to earn the points.
It came in the 73rd minute, Eric Foley lofted a dangerous ball into the box that was nodded back by Stephen O’Flynn, and Caldwell made no mistake from eight yards with a rising shot past Andy Coleman.
It was a rare bright spark in a disjointed Premiership opener in east Belfast.
There was the traditional swell of excitement as the new season kicked-off, but the anticipation in the stands wasn’t rewarded with any goals during a drab first half.
Glentoran showed early signs of encouragement with new signing Foley firing a free-kick into the side netting in the second minute, while at the other End Ryan Harpur’s low drive was easily gathered by Elliott Morris.
Smith and Aaron Harmon both blazed decent opportunities high over the bar for the home side, while Foley’s audacious strike from 30 yards fizzed past Andy Coleman’s post.
Novo came on to replace Smith in the 62nd minute in an attempt to inject some impetus into Glentoran’s play.
The Spaniard was straight into the action with a teasing corner and dangerous cross in the space of 60 seconds that had the Dungannon defence scrambling for cover.
The deadlock was broken in the 73rd minute following a neat move from the Glens.
Foley sent a dangerous ball into the box that had Dungannon on the back foot, and when the ball was nudged back by O’Flynn there was Caldwell to hammer home from eight yards.
Novo almost capped off his cameo appearance with a goal in injury time but the striker’s shot swerved wide of the mark.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Birney, Redman, Smyth, Kane, Addis, Harmon, Foley, Caldwell, O’Flynn, Smith (Novo 67).
Subs not used: Gordon, K. Nelson, Ferrin, D. Nelson.
DUNGANNON: Coleman, Lowe, Armstrong, Hegarty, O’Rourke, Wilson (Douglas 82), Clucas (Hazley 84), Harpur (Lavery 74), Taggart, Glackin, Mitchell.
Subs not used: Addis, Fitzpatrick.
Referee: Steven Gray (Ballyclare)