A lack of attacking firepower again proved costly for Dungannon Swifts as they crashed to their first defeat of the new campaign at the Oval.
An unfortunate own-goal by Adam McMinn and a classy strike from Darren Boyce secured victory as Glentoran’s 100% start to the season continued.
But this was far from the comprehensive defeat some had feared – or the polished performance which was expected by Glens fans.
Indeed while Dungannon left East Belfast empty handed, there were many positives for Dixie Robinson to draw from a spirited display.
Little separated the sides, apart from the slice of luck which handed Glentoran the first goal and the careless error which gifted them their second.
The crucial difference was in the final third, where the home side displayed a greater clinical edge than Dungannon.
Michael Ward and Stefan Lavery worked tirelessly throughout the 90 minutes, but neither possess the power and physical presence missing since Timmy Adamson departed.
Perhaps that will come from Shane Coney, who could soon be available, while the imminent return of Shea Campbell is another boost.
Robinson though will be encouraged by his team’s fearless performance.
This had been their first big test of the campaign against a Glentoran side aiming to wrestle the Gibson Cup back across the city.
Last season the Glens had twice slipped up in this fixture, but they have started strongly this time and seized control of the game in the first half.
There was a huge element of luck to the strike that broke the deadlock after 17 minutes, however.
Johnny Taylor’s cross was touched off for Jim O’Hanlon, and his right-foot effort was going well wide until it ricocheted off McMinn’s chest and past the helpless goalkeeper.
But if Dungannon were unfortunate to concede the first, then the second goal – which came at a time when they were pressing for an equaliser – was down to sheer carelessness.
Johnny Topley played a lazy pass which was seized by Stephen Carson, he slipped a clever ball through to Boyce who controlled, turned and slotted home.
It was harsh on Dungannon, who for long periods had taken the game to their opponents.
They had the first chance inside two minutes. A corner from Stefan Lavery came out to McMinn whose half-volley cleared the crossbar.
It was a positive sign which typified large parts of Swifts’ performance in the first half.
They almost levelled within seven minutes of going behind, with Michael Funston’s effort being cleared off the line by Richard Clarke.
Soon afterwards a pass from Topley released Darren Murphy down the left. He took aim with a powerful, low drive which was diverted into the side netting by Elliott Morris.
Yet Glentoran also looked capable of adding to their lead, and Niall Morgan pulled off a terrific block to deny Andrew Waterworth after he had outpaced McMinn.
Two minutes later a harmless shot from Clarke was spilled by Morgan, fortunately the goalkeeper collected at the second attempt before Boyce could capitalise.
And when a Carson corner reached David Howland, his firmly struck effort through a crowded box was deflected just past the far post.
The second Glentoran goal just before half-time could have crushed Swifts’ morale, but they continued to search for a route back into the match after the break.
PJ Lavery and Shea McGerrigan were drafted off the bench in a sign of their positive approach.
They had one superb chance carved out by McGerrigan. He pulled the ball back but Murphy, eight yards out, dragged his shot wide.
Complacency had slipped into Glentoran’s game and they were losing the midfield battle, however, Dungannon lacked the firepower to take full advantage.
They did ensure a nervous finish by pulling a goal back seven minutes from the end.
A free-kick was awarded on the edge of the box and Dermot McCaffrey knocked the ball to Ryan O’Neill. His shot was low and firm, but should not have beaten the ‘keeper so easily.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Nixon, Hill, Clarke (McGuigan, 64), Taylor, O’Hanlon (Murray, 81), Ward, Howland, Waterworth (Gibson, 60), Boyce, Carson
Subs not used: McGovern, Hogg
DGN SWIFTS: Morgan, O’Neill, McMinn (Montgomery, 73), McCaffrey, McClean, Ward (McGerrigan, 64), Funston (PJ Lavery, 59), Fitzpatrick, Topley, Murphy, S Lavery
Subs not used: Donnelly, Forker
Referee: Colin Burns (Newtownabbey)