Glentoran fell to a humiliating defeat at the hands of bottom side Warrenpoint Town at the Oval this afternoon. Despite the 4-1 midweek win against Ards in the Irish Cup there were four changes to the starting line up with Elliott Morris, Marcus Kane, Curtis Allen and Danny McKee all returning to the side.
There was little sign of what was to come in the first ten minutes as, despite creating little in the way of chances, the Glens enjoyed the majority of the possession with Chris Lavery’s runs causing the visiting defence problems. However it was clear that Point were in confident mood after their recent good run and Conor McDonald and Stephen Murray were giving the Glens back four plenty to think about. Former Glentoran striker Martin Murray, operating in midfield while on loan from Cliftonville, was also having a fine game and it was he that set his side on their way after 15 minutes. Picking the ball up just outside the box he sidestepped a defender and curled a superb shot over Morris and into the back of the net. Shortly afterwards the Glens almost gifted Point their second goal as Morris’s ill-advised throw to Steven McCullough put the left back under too much pressure and his equally poor back pass was latched onto by Martin Murray who was thwarted by a recovering save by the Glens ‘keeper. At this point in the game the defence looked uncommunicative and on 25 minutes former Glens midfielder John McGuigan should have done better with a completely free header from a left wing free kick.
Despite this the home side came close to an equaliser just a minute later. Chris Morrow’s free kick caused panic in the Warrenpoint defence and Marcus Kane and Steven Gordon, twice, had shots blocked in a crazy goalmouth scramble before McKee’s close range effort cannoned off the crossbar. On 41 minutes Morrow showed great feet as he weaved his way into the box but his parting shot sailed over the bar. The last few minutes before the break saw chances for both sides with Morris having to save with his legs from Stephen Murray after a poor defensive clearance and at the other end Kane should have done better when he hooked the ball over the bar from a Lavery cross, followed soon afterwards with a shot deflected for a corner. However breaking from that corner in stoppage time it was Warrenpoint who grabbed the crucial second goal. The ball was cleared to McGuigan who ran clear from the centre circle and deftly chipped the ball over the advancing Morris to double his side’s lead.
Any home fans expecting their side to come out for the second half with all guns blazing waited in vain. Warrenpoint were understandably content to protect their lead but were able to do so in comfort with the Glens looking bereft of ideas or urgency and only forcing the first corner of the half 16 minutes in. Even before that referee Arnold Hunter did the home side a favour, pulling play back to book Kane after a foul when an advantage would have left Stephen Murray one on one with Morris. There were half chances for Gordon and Lavery but Jonathan Parr in the visitors’ goal had little to do and Morris was called into more serious action when he once again saved with his legs from Stephen Murray.
On 72 minutes the game was over as a contest as the visitors grabbed their third goal. Martin Murray was allowed to run from midfield virtually unchallenged and Morris got down to his low shot from the edge of the box but the ball squirmed through his hands and into the back of the net. With 10 minutes left there was further anguish for the fans as the ball was chipped through to Point substitute Johnny McMurray who beat offside and had time to shoot towards goal, Morris once again getting something on the ball but not enough to prevent it hitting the net.
With Warrenpoint more than happy with their lot and a demoralised Glens showing little sign of grabbing a consolation the game petered out to its dismal conclusion. The only crumb of comfort to be taken from the afternoon was that our nearest challengers, Ballymena United and Portadown, both lost in what is turning into a mini-league for sixth place. A vast improvement will be needed next Saturday as we face the trip to Mourneview Park to take on Glenavon.
Elliott Morris, Barry Holland, Jay Magee, Calum Birney, Steven McCullough (sub David Scullion 59 mins), Marcus Kane, Chris Morrow, Steven Gordon, Chris Lavery, Curtis Allen, Danny McKee (sub Fra McCaffrey half time)
Photographs by Thomas Sewell