Glentoran’s title hopes hit the buffers against Carrick Rangers at the Oval.
The east Belfast side huffed and puffed throughout a tedious 90 minutes, but they not only came up against an inspired goalkeeper in Harry Doherty but also were shamefully wasteful in front of goal.
Mick McDermott’s boys have now picked up merely four points from a possible 12 – hardly the credentials of Danske Bank Premiership champions.
They now trail cross-town rivals Linfield by six points – and at this stage of the campaign, it’s a long way back.
For a team that played with a swagger and went on a fantastic 16-game unbeaten run, they are now lacking in a cutting edge up front – in spite of the fact that they forked out big money in the January transfer window to bring Andrew Mitchell, Ruaidhri Donnelly and Deivydas Matuleicius to the club.
Although Glentoran bossed the opening 45 minutes, they trooped off at the interval with little to show for their efforts.
Robbie McDaid tested Doherty with a blistering volley on 10 minutes – an effort the Carrick goalkeeper did well to beat to safety following a superb pass from Navid Nasseri.
The little Iranian, neat and tidy on the ball, created another good chance for McDaid nine minutes later but, after the striker managed to work an opening on the left, his left-footed low drive was impressively beaten out by Doherty.
Tricky Nasseri was then hauled down by a clumsy challenge by Mark Surgenor, but once again Doherty denied McDaid.
He managed to clutch his low 25-yard free kick – and it stuck.
Rangers were content to concede possession, even though the Glens lacked penetration in the final third.
New boy Donnelly did manage to thread a ball into the path of Mitchell, but his weak effort failed to trouble that man Doherty.
With half-time clock ticking down, the home side threatened again.
Gavin Peers’ free-kick was flicked on by Marcus Kane, but Donnelly failed to generate any power.
Incredibly, Rangers almost stole the lead with their first attempt at goal – a fierce 20-yard Reece Neale volley that Elliott Morris did well to paw over the top
Then from a Neale free-kick – after Kane had chopped down Mark Carson – lanky Caolan Loughran hoofed a half-chance into the side-netting.
The action quickly switched to the other end and it took another wonder save from Doherty to deny Patrick McClean off his towering attempt from a Nasseri corner-kick.
With frustration creeping in, the Glens went for broke - understanding valuable points were slipping away.
Doherty again produced heroics when beating out a point-blank header from Kane before he denied McDaid.
The Glens were almost punished right at the end when substitute Daniel Reynolds rounded Morris, only to see his shot clip the post.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Kane, Peers, Gallagher, McDaid, McClean, Nasseri (Frazer, 81), Crowe, Mitchell (Van Overbeek, 57), Marron, Donnelly (Matulevicius, 69).
Subs (not used): Garrett, O’Neill, Antolovic, O’Connor.
CARRICK RANGERS: Doherty, Carson, Neale, Surgenor, Loughran, D.Kelly, Magill (Rodgers, 46), Smith, Cherry, Gawne (Reynolds, 81), Anderson (Faulkner, 71).
Subs (not used): Nicholl, Rodgers, Hassin, Colligan, E.Kelly.
REFEREE: Keith Kennedy.