Not for the first time this month there was injury time heartbreak for the Glens as Mark Stafford’s 93rd minute header rescued a point for Ballinamallard at Ferney Park. There was one change to last Saturday’s starting eleven, Stephen McAlorum coming into midfield in place of Jim O’Hanlon and taking over as captain.
It was a poor start for the Glens as they fell behind after just 5 minutes. John Currie, who proved to be Ballinamallard’s most dangerous player throughout the afternoon, robbed Marcus Kane near the corner flag and whipped in a cross which was headed powerfully home by former Sligo Rovers striker Anthony Elding. The Glens went in search of an equaliser and on 11 minutes it looked like it had arrived when the ball was knocked back to Fra McCaffrey whose low shot from the edge of the box had Fergal Murphy in the home goal beaten, but the ball cannoned off the base of the post. Both teams had their chances with Murphy saving bravely at McCaffrey’s feet after a teasing Curtis Allen cross and Ballinamallard’s Johnny Lafferty firing a 20 yard shot just over shortly afterwards.
Around the half hour mark the Glens had the ball in the net twice courtesy of Allen and McAlorum after some neat build up play, but on both occasions the goal was ruled out for offside, the second decision in particular hotly disputed by the visitors. With half time approaching Ballinamallard should really have doubled their lead; a mistake by Niall Henderson let in Liam Martin who bore down on goal but his shot was not powerful enough to beat Chris Keenan.
The Glens looked a much rejuvenated side after the break and on 51 minutes Keenan’s long clearance eluded the home defenders and was latched onto by Allen whose shot from a tight angle was deflected for a corner by Murphy. Eight minutes later another defensive mix up almost let in David Scullion but the visiting fans did not have to wait long for an equaliser. Henderson’s free kick from the right was directed towards goal by McAlorum in a crowded penalty area and the ball fell nicely for an unmarked Jay Magee who had the simple task of nodding the ball home from a matter of inches. The Glens were in control but with 15 minutes left Ballinamallard should have regained their lead. Elding gained possession in the Glentoran box and set up a great opportunity for unmarked Ballinamallard substitute Ryan Campbell whose shot thumped against the post.
Instead it was the Glens who went into the lead 5 minutes later and what a great goal it was. Substitute John McGuigan picked up the ball on the left and delivered a pinpoint cross to Magee at the far post. The Glentoran number 6 headed back across the six yard line and Allen dispatched the ball high into the net with a spectacular overhead kick. The visitors were now well in control, keeping possession comfortably and could even have wrapped up the points when Allen rattled the upright after being sent clear by a quick throw in. However with the third of the 3 minutes of added time almost up Willie Garrett gave away an unnecessary free kick, Raymond Foy swung the ball in and Stafford rose unmarked to head powerfully home to send the Glens on the long journey home with a draw which will feel very much like a defeat.
Goal highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE
Photographs by Thomas Sewell
Chris Keenan, Niall Henderson, Jay Magee, Barry Holland, Marcus Kane (sub Jonathan Addis 80 mins), David Scullion, Stephen McAlorum, Kym Nelson (sub Willie Garrett 62 mins), David Howland (sub John McGuigan 69 mins), Fra McCaffrey, Curtis Allen