Cliftonville fell to their first home defeat in four months as second-half goals saw Glentoran take all three points from tonight’s Danske Bank Premiership tie.
Ruaidhri Donnelly opened the scoring on 59 minutes and, though the Reds dominated possession thereafter, their inability to force any real openings was punished when a deflected Ciaran O’Connor effort sealed the visitors’ victory in the closing stages.
The first opportunity of the night fell Rory Hale’s way but, though he did well to steer his shot on target through a crowded penalty area, goalkeeper Rory Brown was well positioned to gather.
Good work from Aaron Donnelly and Ryan Curran on the left saw the latter race down the flank only to see his attempted cutback to Michael McCrudden fall short and the danger was cleared by the Glens, who saw two Jay Donnelly attempts charged down by Garry Breen and Ryan O’Reilly before the interval.
O’Reilly’s injury-enforced withdrawal at the break led to Liam Bagnall dropping out of midfield to partner Breen at the back but it was Hale who again carved out the first opening of the new half, but this time his low drive from the edge of the area crept wide.
Within minutes, the ball was in the net at the other end as, amid referee Christopher Morrison dismissing appeals from the home dugout over a foul on Ronan Doherty, substitute Robbie McDaid slipped Andy Mitchell in and his low ball across the face of goal was converted by Donnelly at the back post.
Most of the remaining half an hour saw Cliftonville pouring forward without being able to seriously penetrate a well-organised Glentoran defence, although Jay Donnelly did go close to making it 2-0 with a rasping long-range strike that whistled just over the top.
The closest the Reds came to levelling was from the 82nd minute delivery by Kris Lowe which forced Joe Crowe to make a timely intervention before Ryan Curran could make a connection with the ball.
Glentoran wrapped things up two minutes from the end when, after a shot from Jay Donnelly was kept out by McCarey, O’Connor seized on possession and struck with an attempt that took a touch off Breen on its way past the keeper.
Cliftonville: McCarey, Breen, O’Reilly (Doherty, 46 mins), C Curran (Kearns, 64 mins), O’Connor, R Curran, McCrudden (O’Neill, 64 mins), Donnelly, Bagnall, Hale, Lowe. Unused subs: Dunne, Foster, Casey, Coffey.