Glentoran and Ballinamallard United played out a frustrating stalemate at the Oval today in a match either side could’ve won.
It was the home side who made the early running, and Stephen McAlorum’s powerful volley after four minutes drew an acrobatic save from Ballinamallard goalkeeper Feargal Murphy. Two minutes later and the Glens were threatening again; this time Jim O’Hanlon dancing past challenge after challenge however unfortunately for Glentoran the shot wasn’t quite as spectacular as the run; blazing high and wide from eighteen yards.
The Ferney Park side slowly began to get into the match and after a quarter of an hour they came closest to an opener: Ryan Campbell’s left footed strike slamming Elliott Morris’ near post. End-to-end football was now being played however both sides were struggling to unlock the other’s defence and a Mark Clarke header that just looped over the crossbar was about the only chance of note leading up to half-time.
Glentoran came out in the second-half intent on collecting their second victory of the season, and they appeared to be hard done by as Mark Clarke’s 49th minute piledriver looked to strike the hand of Mallards defender Mark Stafford. The referee baffled home supporters by waving play on, however upon review it seems Stafford leaned towards Clarke’s effort.
Ballinamallard took control again as dominance swung from side-to-side in this entertaining match, and Morris’ had centre back Jimmy Callacher to thank after he was caught in no man’s land, and Campbell’s cross looked to have found Jason McCartney only for Callacher to smash clear at the vital moment.
For both sides it was a case of ‘almost’, and David Scullion summed that up after 61 minutes - Murphy fumbling Johnny Addis’ cross straight to the winger however the summer arrival’s reactions were a fraction too slow and the danger was averted. In true end-to-end fashion, Ballinamallard had an excellent chance themselves just three minutes later: Andy Crawford and McCartney linked up superbly down the left hand side and after Crawford saw his effort saved; McCartney’s close range header was cleared off the line by Jason Hill.
Glentoran again took control, however time-after-time the final ball wasn’t quite there and Murphy wasn’t tested. Substitute Jordan Hughes blazed over after 75 minutes, before Callacher’s sublime dinked free-kick had Murphy scrambling across his goal only to see the ball flash inches wide. Johnny Addis directed a header into the ground however it lacked the power to really trouble the Mallards’ shot-stopper.
As time began to run out the east Belfast outfit were throwing everything forward, however Ballinamallard managed to withstand the pressure and hold on for a share of the points. A result that sees us slide down to fifth place in the league; perhaps a case of one point gained, two points lost for the Glens but the unbeaten record is still intact.
Next up is a trip to Ballyclare Comrades in the NIFL League Cup on Monday 26th August with a 7:45pm kick off. Also, don’t forget that we’re away to Linfield next Saturday and this game is ALL-TICKET for Glentoran fans.
Glentoran: Morris (capt), O'Neill, Hill, Birney, Callacher, M. Clarke, McAlorum, Howland, O'Hanlon, Scullion & Addis.
Subs: Hughes & Henderson for O'Hanlon & M. Clarke (66) and Bradley for Hill (85).
Subs Not Used: McComb & Stewart.
Today's match ball was kindly sponsored by RAVEN GSC
Match action on BBC Sport NI HERE