It was honours even at the Oval this afternoon as a Billy Joe Burns equaliser cancelled out Andy Waterworth’s first half goal. The windy conditions played their part, with the Glens taking the lead with the breeze at their backs and Linfield exerting more pressure after the break.
There was action at both ends in the early stages with a Billy Joe Burns free kick well dealt with by Elliott Morris after two minutes and William Murphy forced to head over his own cross bar from a dangerous Jim O’Hanlon cross just a couple of minutes later. The home fans had even more to cheer on seven minutes with a goal right out of the top drawer. Jimmy Callacher sprayed a superb ball out to Jim O’Hanlon on the right and the young winger’s low, first time cross was met on the six yard line by Andy Waterworth who got in front of Albert Watson to send the ball past a helpless Alan Blayney.
Linfield’s best effort of the first half came on thirteen minutes when the ball broke for Brian McCaul on the right side of the Glentoran box but his fierce shot was superbly turned over by Morris. Callacher had a chance to increase the Glens’ lead shortly afterwards after good work by O’Hanlon and Waterworth, but the ball got caught under his feet and he couldn’t get enough power in his shot. With a quarter of the game gone Glentoran hearts were in their mouths as Robert Garrett broke clear of the Glentoran back line. A goal or possibly a penalty and red card looked certain but he was denied by a superb last ditch tackle from Marcus Kane. O’Hanlon came close on thirty three minutes when he picked up a quick throw but pulled his shot from eighteen yards just wide of the post.
Linfield took advantage of the wind in the second half, although the Glens came close just seconds after the restart when the ball broke to Calum Birney after a free kick but his shot was deflected into the side netting. With an hour of the game gone Linfield grabbed their equaliser. Half time substitute Mark McAllister found Burns on the right side of the Glentoran box and he cut inside and fired an unstoppable left foot shot high into the net. Peter Thompson had a great chance to give Linfield the lead on seventy three minutes when he broke clear and tried to lob Morris but he got too much on it and the ball sailed over the bar. A couple of minutes later Burns should have doubled his tally when he played a clever one-two with Jamie Mulgrew but dragged his shot just wide of the post. With twelve minutes left Birney, who had a superb game at the centre of the Glentoran defence, fouled Mulgrew right on the edge of the box. The resulting free kick from Niall Quinn was on target but Morris held the shot brilliantly when under pressure from Thompson.
While Linfield were creating the bulk of the chances the in-form Waterworth was giving the Linfield defence all sorts of problems with a number of shots whistling just over the bar. With a minute left on the watch he latched onto a Richard Clarke pass and rounded Blayney but by this time the angle was against him and his effort was cleared. Linfield immediately broke to the other end where McAllister found space but his shot was well saved by Morris. As the game moved into injury time there was a chance for each side to grab a late winner. First Stephen Carson’s corner was headed just over the bar by Jay Magee and then late Linfield substitute Ryan Henderson had a chance to score with his first touch but glanced his header just wide of the post.
So it’s three League draws in a row for the Glens, but undefeated this season so far and fans and players will be looking forward to more points on the board as they make the long trip to Ballinamallard on Tuesday evening.
Match highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE
Elliott Morris, Sean Ward, Jay Magee, Calum Birney, Marcus Kane, Mark Clarke, Jim O’Hanlon (sub Martin Murray 73 mins), Jimmy Callacher (sub Jason Hill 81 mins), John McGuigan (sub Richard Clarke 77 mins), Stephen Carson, Andy Waterworth