Jay Magee’s late penalty gave ten man Glentoran a thoroughly deserved point against cross town rivals Linfield this afternoon. The opening exchanges were as low key as the build up to this game, the only incident of note being referee Mark Courtney’s decision to book Stephen Carson in the first minute after a challenge on Niall Quinn in which he appeared to play the ball. The game came to life on twenty minutes when a period of Linfield pressure called for some desperate defending from the Glens, with Jimmy Callacher making two vital blocks in quick succession. One minute later a Stephen Carson free kick from right found Jay Magee ten yards out, his low strike came crashing off the post and his follow up effort from the rebound was deflected wide. Linfield could have taken the lead on thirty two minutes when Philip Lowry turned sharply in the Glentoran box but his parting shot was straight at Elliott Morris. Former Glentoran striker Gary Browne had an even better chance four minutes from the break but his free header from six yards out was well wide of the target. Just as it looked as though the first half would end scoreless Linfield grabbed the lead. Billy Joe Burns deep cross from the right found Michael Carvill unmarked at the far post, he headed back across goal and Lowry got to the ball before the home defenders to bundle the ball over the line.
The Glens were forced into a half time change, sending on Jim O’Hanlon to replace the injured Marcus Kane who had been the victim of an awful challenge from Brian McCaul in the first half. However it proved to be a blessing in disguise as O’Hanlon’s runs along the right started to cause Linfield problems. Indeed the Glens were dominating possession and five minutes in Andy Waterworth almost snatched an equaliser, turning brilliantly on the left wing, cutting inside and curling a shot just wide of the post. Elliott Morris was a virtual spectator but for all the home side’s possession Linfield goalkeeper Ross Glendinning didn’t have any serious saves to make until the sixty sixth minute when he parried away O’Hanlon’s twenty yard effort. With twenty minutes left the Glens’ task was made much more difficult when they went down to ten men. Mark Clarke inadvisably kicked out after a challenge with Mark McAllister and, while the Linfield striker made the most of the situation, getting up to find out the referee’s decision before having a sudden relapse and collapsing to the turf again, Courtney had no option but to brandish the red card.
Despite this set back the Glens continued to force Linfield back into their own half and on seventy eight minutes a delicious cross from Carson just evaded the head of Waterworth and Glendinning was able to clear with his feet. Soon afterwards another Carson delivery, this time from a corner, caused the young ‘keeper more problems as he completely missed the ball but his defenders were able to clear. With six minutes left on the clock the Glens got the breakthrough that their play deserved. Substitute Martin Murray, on just a couple minutes earlier, was felled in the Linfield box by a clumsy challenge from William Murphy and there were no complaints from Linfield as Courtney pointed to the spot. Jay Magee stepped up to confidently dispatch his fourth successful penalty of the season low into the net. In the closing minutes the visitors managed their first efforts of the half, a McCaul free kick which whistled wide and an overhead kick from the same player which sailed well over the bar, but in the five minutes of added time it was the Glens who looked the more likely scorers.
In the end all three points would not have flattered the Glens and the fans headed home happy with another battling and committed performance. Manager Eddie Patterson will no doubt be looking forward with confidence to the visit of St Patrick’s Athletic to the Oval on Monday night as we attempt to progress to the quarter finals of the Setanta Cup.
Match highlights on BBCNI Sport HERE
Photograph by Thomas Sewell
Glentoran: Elliott Morris, Sean Ward, Jay Magee, Jimmy Callacher, Jason Hill (sub John McGuigan 88 mins), Stephen Carson, Mark Clarke, Richard Clarke (sub Martin Murray 82 mins), Stephen McAlorum, Marcus Kane (sub Jim O’Hanlon 46 mins), Andy Waterworth