Sligo Rovers strolled into the semi-finals of the Setanta Cup as they ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in the second leg of their quarter final at the Oval stadium in Belfast.
Sligo almost took the lead as early as the third minute when Raffaele Cretaro raced through on goal and rounded the keeper but, with the empty goal at his mercy, he contrived to hit the inside of the post and then watched as the ball rolled agonisingly across the goal face and wide. It was a shocking miss by the former Bohemians striker and it seemed to play on his mind as he shot tamely at the keeper when three minutes later he was put through on goal and hit a tame shot at Aaron Hogg.
The respite was only brief for the Northern side as moments later Lee Lynch left Hogg with no chance as his thirty yard strike rifled past the Glen’s keeper to put any thoughts of the most unlikely of comebacks to bed. Glentoran then enjoyed their best spell as they pushed forward in search of an equaliser. Gary Rogers did well to parry Martin Murray’s fiercely hit drive on 19 minutes.
As the home side attacked they always looked susceptible to a ball over the top and were subsequently caught out on 25 minutes when Cretaro grabbed the game’s second as he latched on to a long ball and stroked it past the onrushing Aaron Hogg to atone for his earlier mistake.
The Glens spent the remainder of the half searching fruitlessly for a way past the solid midfield engine room of Lynch and David Cawley but were given little encouragement by the Rovers duo who were comfortably on top in that department throughout.
The second half soon took on the look of a training ground exercise as Sligo passed it about nicely but without any real urgency.
Jimmy Callacher almost pulled one back for the Irish League side when he forced Rogers to push his dipping free over the crossbar and Rovers were again grateful to their goalkeeper as he was called into action shortly afterwards to get behind another vicious drive from Martin Murray.
As the clock ticked down Eddie Patterson’s charges tried hard to avoid a whitewash and inevitably gaps began to appear at the back. Liam Martin exploited one such gap in the 85th minute when he cut in from the right and rifled the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area to put the Airtricity League Champions comfortably into the semi-final.
The Bit O’Red now face a trip to Hunky Dorys Park to take on Drogheda United in their semi-final first leg, with the game scheduled for the 16th of April. The return leg, at The Showgrounds, is pencilled in for the 22nd.
Glentoran: Aaron Hogg; Calum Birney, Kevin Bradley, John McGuigan (Daniel Burns 69), Jimmy Callacher; David Howland, Marcus Kane (Billy McCullough 72), Martin Murray, Jim O’Hanlon (Richard Clarke 54); Andrew Waterworth, Mark Clarke.
Subs not used: Stephen Carson, Karl McComb, Colin Nixon.
Bookings: Richard Clarke (59)
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane (Marty Owens 69), Evan McMillan, Jeff Henderson, Ryan Connelly; Keiran Djilali, Seamus Conneely (Shane McGinty 46), Lee Lynch, David Cawley, Pascal Millien; Raffaele Cretaro (Liam Martin 59).
Subs not used: Jake Dykes, Anthony Elding, Ciaran Kelly, Hugh McFadden.
Bookings: Jeff Henderson (62).
Referee: Rob Rogers.
Attendance: 150 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Lee Lynch (Sligo Rovers).