The conditions weren't exactly ideal at The Oval for today's important Danske Bank Premiership game between Glentoran and Ballinamallard Utd. It rained constantly throughout the game with it turning to snow at various points. The result led inevitably to a reasonably scrappy affair, however Glentoran coped with the conditions the better and still managed to produce some excellent football.
The game started slowly as both sides attempted to seize control on the difficult playing surface. Marty Murray had the first clear cut opportunity as he made a penetrating run from the wing and received the ball through the Mallards defence. As he went to shoot from inside the box however Ballinamallard were able to recover and make the tackle. Ballinamallard started to grow in the game and from a goalmouth scramble, a loose ball resulted in a shot being blazed over Elliot Morris' bar. Andy Waterworth then had a glorious opportunity to make it 1-0 to The Glens as David Howland stuck the crossbar from a fantastic 25 yard shot leaving Waterworth with the seemingly simple task of finishing the rebound. Andy though seemed caught in two minds about where to place his shot and ended up dragging the shot wide.
Glentoran relieved Andy's blushes however on 33rd minute when Richard Clarke scored a goal of real class. Mallards keeper Alvin Rouse attempted a clearance only for it to be cut out 25 yards from goal. Richard Clarke was composed as he lobbed a perfect effort towards the goal, sailing over Rouse and the Mallards defence who desperately tried to clear it off the line. The ball came down just in time to nestle in the back of the net.
The opener seemed to kick Ballinamallard into gear and they had two opportunities before the break. The first a David Kee free-kick well stopped by Elliot Morris and the second when Andy Crawford broke free of the Glentoran defence but when closed down quickly he could only blaze his shot over. Glentoran led 1-0 at the break.
The second half began with a warning sign for The Glens as Ballinamallard struck the post but from then on it was one way traffic. Glentoran were able to move the ball at a high tempo deep in our opposition half for large periods which will be particularly pleasing for Eddie Patterson and his backroom staff. The Glens got the second on the 52nd minute after Andy Waterworth did brilliantly to latch onto a Sean Ward through ball. It seemed the ball may run out of play but Waterworth got there first and picked out an excellent cross for Marty Murray to fire home into the top corner on the half volley.
The second goal virtually killed the game as a contest and Glentoran took complete control. Richard Clarke broke through 1 on 1 but was stopped by an excellent last ditch tackle. Andy Waterworth's hard work up front was finally rewarded when he got his 19th goal of the season on 77th minute. Waterworth worked hard on the touchline to keep the ball in play before outmuscling 3 Ballinamallard defenders and breaking into the box. Waterworth this time was in no doubt where he was placing his effort and fired low and hard through Rouse's legs.
The Glens perhaps could have made it four when sub Carl McComb showed fantastic skill to take the ball around two tackles in the box but when he attempted to round Rouse in nets his touch went out for a goal kick. If McComb could have made it four Marcus Kane certaintly should have after an excellent Andy Waterworth cross wasn't dealt with late on. The ball fell to Kane who had mostly an empty goal however his effort managed to pick out the solitary Mallards defender on the line who cleared.
Overall Eddie Patterson will be delighted with the performance which sees us 3 points clear of Coleraine in 4th place with a game in hand. As well as that we are now just 5 points behind Linfield in our fight to sneak into the automatic European places in third. With an Irish Cup semi-final to look forward to on 6th April, there is still plenty to play for for The Glens this season.
Match highlights on BBC SPort NI HERE
Glentoran: Morris, Ward, Nixon (c), Callacher, Hill, McAlorum, Clarke, Howland, Murray, O'Hanlon, Waterworth
Subs: Kane for O'Hanlon, Bradley for Clarke, McComb for Murray