Aaron Hogg started in goal for the Glens at Ferney Park with Elliott Morris again suffering from his back injury. Chris Lavery missed out through injury and new signing, Stephen Rice was ineligible as his international clearance did not come through on time.
Glentoran started sloppily, conceding a throw in straight from the kick off and gifting possession to Ballinamallard Utd. The ball was then crossed in from the left with Ivan Sproule getting on the end of it and forcing Hogg to concede a corner. A minute later Hogg was called into action again when a quickly taken free kick by Shane McCabe looked to have put Stephen O’Flynn in on goal but the Glens keeper was out quickly to clear the danger. It took the Glens 5 minutes to register their first attempt on goal; Marcus Kane’s ambitious 30-yard volley flying well wide of the target. On 8 minutes Curtis Allen tried his luck from the right corner of the 18-yard box but his shot too was wide of the mark.
Just before the quarter hour mark the Mallards were awarded a free kick on the left. Sproule took it and found James McKenna in the area but his header was off target. Another free kick a couple of minutes later brought the first bit of controversy. O’Flynn’s shot deflected off the Glentoran defensive wall and fell to Jason McCartney. As he tried to round the keeper Hogg appeared to make contact with him. The ball broke to Johnny Lafferty who fired it home but referee Kennedy pointed to the spot and showed Hogg a red card. With two other Glentoran defenders being goal side of Hogg, the big keeper was understandably upset. Glentoran manager, Alan Kernaghan sent on Elliott Morris in place of Jonathon Smith and the keeper, on his 602nd appearance for the club, duly saved Jason McCartney’s spot kick. From the resulting corner, James McKenna headed wide of goal. On 26 minutes O’Flynn shot wide and then on the half hour the big striker was inches wide with a close range header.
In first half stoppage time Sproule broke down the right and skipped past Steven McCullough before firing a shot across goal. The ball appeared to have gone straight out of play but referee Kennedy awarded the home side a corner. The ball was cleared from the area but following what appeared to be nothing more than a ‘handbags’ incident the official produced two further red cards; Steven Gordon and Johnny Lafferty both seeing red.
After the interval it was the home side who had the first attempt at breaking the deadlock; McKenna’s 20 yard drive going well wide. Calum Birney then was off target at the other end with a header from a Ciaran Caldwell free kick. On 57 minutes McCartney went close with a shot from the left corner of the penalty area and then on the hour Ballinamallard United edged in front when Adam Lecky nipped in front of Jay Magee and clipped the ball past Elliott Morris. 10 minutes later it was nearly 2-nil; Stephen O’Flynn’s free kick striking the base of the post. 15 minutes from time Curtis Allen did well to win the ball in midfield. He fed it through to Ciaran Caldwell but as th in on goal the linesman raised his flag for what must have been a marginal offside.
On 86 minutes Marcus Kane was fouled out on the left wing. Substitute David Scullion swung the ball into the area but Jay Magee couldn’t keep his header on target. In the second minute of added time another cross from the left was flicked on by Magee. It fell to Caldwell at the back post but his goal bound effort was turned away by Stefan McCusker in the Mallards’ goal. Whilst Alan Kernaghan will not have been happy with the result he should be happy with the effort put in by his team, particularly Ciaran Caldwell in midfield.
Glentoran: Hogg, Holland, Kane (capt), Magee, Birney, Addis, Gordon, Caldwell, McCullough, Smith & Allen.
Subs: Morris for Smith (18) & Scullion for Addis (82). Unused: Morrow, Gibson & Patton.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.