It was a strange game in many ways at Mourneview Park this afternoon with the scoreline suggesting an easy win for the home side. Although Glentoran were disappointing in the latter stages of the match they more than held their own for the first hour. Ultimately the combination of not putting the ball in the net when you are on top, making unforced errors at the back and a couple of somewhat strange refereeing decisions left the East Belfast Glens with nothing to show for their afternoon's work.
Both sides had half chances early on with Barry Holland's tame effort not troubling James McGrath in the home goal whilst Kevin Braniff's weak effort from a tight angle only found the side netting. Barry Holland was left struggling following a rash challenge from James Singleton; the Glenavon player fortunate not to pick up at least a yellow card. On 10 minutes the Lurgan Blues fired a free kick into the danger area and a struggling Holland, under pressure from Kris Lindsay, got the ball clear. He was unable to continue though and was replaced by Johnny Addis. Just after the quarter hour mark a foul by Rhys Marshall on Curtis Allen resulted in a free kick to Glentoran 25 yards from goal. Willie Garrett struck it sweetly but the ball went inches over the crossbar. A minute later Allen stung the palms of the keeper with a shot from the edge of the area.
Glentoran were dominant at this stage and Steven Gordon, Jordan Stewart and Willie Garrett all went close to opening the scoring. Perhaps the best chance for Glentoran came on 28 minutes. Marcus Kane did really well down the left and his ball into the box found Stevie Gordon. The big midfielder, with 10 goals already this term, failed to connect properly and his effort went high and wide. On 31 minutes, totally against the run of play, Glenavon took the lead. Willie Garrett conceded a needless corner and when the ball was swung into the box it was scrambled in by James Singleton. On 36 minutes referee Arnold Hunter blew for a foul when Kevin Braniff elbowed Calum Birney. Hunter was close to the action as was the fourth official Ross Dunlop and the referee clearly indicated that an elbow had been used. Somewhat surprisingly he produced a yellow card! Things got worse for Glentoran in first half stoppage time. Willie Garrett challenged Mark Patton but the ball deflected off Steven Gordon and into the path of Singleton who scored his second from close range.
Glentoran started the second period well and should have pulled a goal back on 48 minutes. Garrett crossed from the right and Steven Gordon met it perfectly but his shot went inches wide with McGrath stranded. 4 minutes later Gordon had another opportunity but saw his 20 yard shot blocked by the defence. Curtis Allen's effort met a similar fate just before the hour. Glenavon should have increased their lead on 62 minutes but Eoin Bradley, who had finally been cautioned just beforehand for his umpteenth foul, managed to miss the target from a yard out. With 15 minutes remaining Glenavon made the game safe when Mark Patton scored from 8 yards out. More poor defending from Glentoran allowed Andy McGrory to grab another on 79 minutes.
All in all a bad day at the office for the East Belfast side. A few players missed the opportunity to put themselves in the manager's thoughts for the upcoming Irish Cup final but they'll get another chance on Tuesday evening when Linfield visit the Oval.
Disabilty Action are Glentoran FCs chosen charity for season 2014-15. They will be making a collection prior to the game v Linfield on Easter Tuesday. If you would like to help with the collection, please come down by 6.45pm and contact Clare Sheeran. All help and support would be greatly appreciated.
Highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE
Photographs by Thomas Sewell
Glentoran: Morris (capt), Holland, Kane, Birney, Garrett, Henderson, Gordon, Scullion, Stewart, McCaffrey and Allen.
Subs: Addis for Kane (12), O'Hanlon for Scullion (75 and McKee for McCaffrey (75). Unused: Hogg & McCullough.