Jamie McGonigle at the double as Coleraine beat Glentoran to set-up European play-off final against Crusaders

Jamie McGonigle is mobbed by his Coleraine team-mates after opening the scoring at The OvalJamie McGonigle is mobbed by his Coleraine team-mates after opening the scoring at The Oval
Jamie McGonigle is mobbed by his Coleraine team-mates after opening the scoring at The Oval
Coleraine booked their place in the final of the European play-off after a 3-0 win against Glentoran at The Oval.

The Bannsiders – who had lost their four previous semi-finals in the play-offs – would lead by two goals at the break as Jamie McGonigle and Lyndon Kane both found the back of the net.

Glentoran would have plenty of possession after the break but the visitors would seal their spot in the decider against Crusaders as McGonigle finished off a clever corner-kick routine

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Both teams made a sea of changes from last weekend's action as Glentoran drafted in eight new players, whilst Oran Kearney made seven alterations from the heavy defeat to Larne.

The early stages of the contest would be the tale of two tackles as Glentoran midfielder Fuad Sule was booked after just nine seconds following a robust tackle on Stephen O'Donnell.

O'Donnell would then be involved in a collision of his own as he was cautioned for a challenge on James Singleton which forced the Glens ace to be substituted.

However, the deadlock would be broken with the first meaningful chance of the game with 20 minutes on the clock. Industrious work on the right-hand side by Andy Scott resulted in the winger crossing for McGonigle who glanced a header into the bottom corner.

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A series of fouls and stoppages severely disrupted the flow of the first-half but Oran Kearney’s side spurned a big chance on 40 minutes. A cross by Kane was held up at the back post and Matthew Shevlin had his header saved, with McGonigle unable to steer the rebound below the crossbar.

With the half-time whistle looming, Coleraine did stretch their advantage as a mix-up in the Glentoran rearguard cost them dear. A world-class save by Aaron McCarey initially thwarted Jamie Glackin but the ‘keeper and Luke McCullough got in each other’s way, which allowed Kane to fire into an empty net for his first goal of the season.

Declan Devine introduced Niall McGinn and Shay McCartan at half-time with the former crossing for Patrick McClean but his header was comfortably gathered.

Minutes later, the visitors would have Graham Kelly to thank as the defender hooked away a header from David Fisher as Jay Donnelly looked certain to pounce.

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Coleraine were happy to sit deep and allow Glentoran pressure and the east Belfast side almost halved the arrears on 66 minutes. A pin-point delivery by McGinn was on the money for Junior but the substitute’s header was saved around the post by Brown.

A third for Coleraine would be the cue for a mass exodus at The Oval as a clever training ground routine gave the Bannsiders their third goal of the evening on 70 minutes. A quick piece of play by Glackin and McGonigle allowed the striker to convert from an acute angle to double his tally.

Glentoran’s misery would be compounded with five minutes to go as Sule received his marching orders by referee Shane Andrews for a second bookable offence following a tackle on Shevlin.

90 minutes of football now separates Coleraine and Crusaders to compete in next year’s Europa Conference League.

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