Coming into this game, it had been a fortnight since Rangers’ last outing – a cruel 1-0 defeat to Cliftonville whose winning goal came in the 95th minute.
Only one change was made from that side as Cameron Stewart came in for Reece Glendinning who was sidelined following an operation on his ankle the day prior.
The hosts started the game the brighter of the two teams and felt aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty on fifteen minutes when Daire O’Connor went down in the box under chase from Ben Buchanan-Rolleston; referee Tim Marshall urging the winger to return to his feet as he waved away the spot-kick appeals.
Just five minutes later, however, Warren Feeney’s men made the breakthrough.
With Rangers sitting deep, midfielder Bobby Burns found space in a central position twenty-five yards from goal and rifled a fine strike beyond Ross Glendinning and into the corner of the net to open the scoring.
Glentoran would double their advantage before the half was out; David Fisher receiving Johnny Russell’s pass before turning infield and firing a low, right-footed shot into the bottom corner from twenty yards.
Carrick could have had one back on the stroke of half time when Kurtis Forsythe neatly slipped the ball through to Nedas Maciulaitis in the penalty area, but the forward’s effort was well blocked by centre-half Luke McCullough.
Changing his approach at the interval, ‘Gers boss Stuart King brought on James Teelan and altered his formation to provide more width in attack.
However, the Glens could have had the game wrapped up ten minutes into the second period when Fisher’s header sent strike partner Junior through on goal, but his shot from fifteen yards was denied by the outstretched foot of Glendinning.
Rangers, though, were finding their way back into the contest as the second half progressed and were able to halve the deficit on 67 minutes.
Teelan’s deep cross into the box was headed back into the middle by Steven Gordon where Nedas Maciulaitis picked the ball up before setting it off for Andy Mitchell who unleashed an unstoppable effort from twenty yards that rocketed past Ollie Webber to find the top corner of the net.
With momentum now on their side, the ‘Gers eagerly pursued an equaliser and came close through David Cushley whose well-struck free-kick, which looked destined for the same top corner that Mitchell had found minutes earlier, was well kept out by Webber.
At the other end, O’Connor thought he had restored the home side’s two-goal cushion when he converted the rebound after Glendinning spilled a Fisher free-kick, but his celebrations were quickly cut short by the raised offside flag of the assistant referee.
Carrick looked the more threatening team in the closing stages and found their deserved leveller in the 83rd minute.
From the right channel of the box, Danny Gibson delivered a low cross towards the near post where substitute Curtis Allen, only on the pitch for a matter of minutes, turned the ball in off the upright to complete his side’s comeback.
Glentoran: Ollie Webber; Aidan Wilson, Luke McCullough, Marcus Kane (Charlie Lindsay, 75); Daire O’Connor, Fuad Sule, Seanan Clucas, Johnny Russell; Bobby Burns; David Fisher, Junior (Shay McCartan, 89).
Unused substitutes: Lorcan Donnelly, Harry Murphy, Josh Kelly, Aaron Wightman, Kirk McLaughlin.
Bookings: Bobby Burns (55’), Seanan Clucas (68’)
Carrick Rangers: Ross Glendinning; Lewis MacKinnon (James Teelan, 46), Cameron Stewart, Albert Watson, Kurtis Forsythe, Andy Mitchell, Steven Gordon (Kyle Cherry, 81), Ben Buchanan-Rolleston; David Cushley (Emmett McGuckin, 81), Nedas Maciulaitis (Curtis Allen, 81); Danny Gibson.
Unused substitutes: Ben McCauley, Joe Crowe, Will Arnold.
Bookings: Steven Gordon (63’), Cameron Stewart (69’), James Teelan (90+4’)
Referee: Tim Marshall