Conor McMenamin strikes late as Glentoran close gap at the top

Mick McDermott’s Glentoran sent out another message of intent with this last gasp victory over gutsy Coleraine at the Bet McLean Oval.

By Alex Mills
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 10:46 pm

Just when it appeared the Bannsiders would maintain their impressive form at the East Belfast venue – they hadn’t lost in the League since 2016 – Conor McMenamin popped up with a crucial last minute winner.

Big Michael O’Connor shot the Glens into a first half lead, his first goal for the club, but skipper Stephen O’Donnell levelled matters late in the second half.

With the crowd urging on the home team, they didn’t disappoint and McMenamin somehow managed to scramble home the winner.

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Conor McMenamin (left) celebrates after his late strike earned Glentoran all three points against Coleraine. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Matt Mackey

The victory inched the Glens to within one point of Linfield at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table..

The irrepressible Jamie Glackin, the centre of transfer speculation in the current transfer window, was pivotal to Coleraine’s early pressure.

His free kick looked destined for the head of O’Donnelly, only for Seanan Clucas to get back to flick the ball to safety. From Glackin’s resulting corner kick, the Glens failed to clear the danger before the ball broke to Josh Carson on the edge of the box and his low drive was expertly saved at the base of the post by Aaron McCarey.

McDermott’s team soon eased their way into the game with the dangerous Robbie McDaid making a great run down the right before trying his luck at goal, only to see his shot fly high and wide, with O’Connor totally free in the middle.

The pair did get their act together on 29 minutes, which lead to Glentoran’s breakthrough. Sean Murray’s pinpoint pass sent McDaid hurtling down the right. This time he picked out the lanky O’Connor, who stretched out a boot to send the ball into the top corner.

The home team almost repeated the dose just before the break. Hrvoje Plum attempted one of his trademark long-range efforts from wide on the left and goalkeeper Gareth Deane was relieved to see the ball flash inches wide of the post.

Glentoran stormed from the traps after the restart and McDaid had Deane at full stretch with a low drive from distance, after great work on the right by Rhys Marshall.

And, they almost grabbed a killer second goal four minutes later. Murray’s cross found O’Connor at the back post, but his shot was somehow smuggled off the line by O’Donnell.

Kearney made a double substitution on the hour, introducing Curtis Allen and Matthew Shevlin in a bid to inject some impetus into his anaemic front line.

And, the move worked a treat because the Bannsiders were level with 17 minutes remaining.

Conor McKendry’s inswinging corner kick was flicked on by Rodney Brown for O’Donnell to power home from practically under the crossbar.

But it was McMenamin who had the last laugh when he popped up at the back post to poke the ball past Deane following a free kick from Plum.