Glentoran travelled to a wet and windy Fermanagh this afternoon and deservedly came away with all 3 points thanks to a 4-2 win. Both teams deserve great credit for putting on such an entertaining game in horrendous conditions but a special mention must be given to the Ferney Park groundsman as the playing surface was immaculate.
Manager, Alan Kernaghan made just one change to last week’s starting line up with skipper Stephen McAlorum returning in place of fellow midfielder, Steven Gordon. The Glens started brightly and with just 5 minutes on the clock won their first corner thanks to Barry Holland. Jonathan Smith took the set piece but it was well defended by the home side. 3 minutes later Curtis Allen put a dangerous cross into the penalty area but Stefan McCusker did well to come and claim the ball. Allen then had a half chance from 25 yards but, under pressure, dragged his shot wide. Jonny Addis then broke well from midfield, skipping past a couple of defenders before finding Smith. The young striker fired goalwards but his effort was just too high.
Ballinamallard United’s first chance came on 15 minutes but Michael McCrudden’s attempt was well blocked by the excellent Holland. Midway through the first half Glentoran went in front. A poor kick out from McCusker failed to reach the halfway line. Smith won the ball in the air and Fra McCaffrey latched on to it, driving forward before finding Curtis Allen. Allen’s low shot was saved by the feet of Stefan McCusker but the ball ran straight to McCaffrey who side footed it home from 8 yards. On 25 minutes Steven McCullough was cautioned for a foul on the edge of the area. The resulting free kick was well blocked though by Niall Henderson. Just after the half hour a deep cross from the right from Holland was met at the back post by Allen but his header landed on the roof of the net. With 33 minutes played the home side drew level. McCaffrey lost possession in midfield and the Mallards broke forward. The ball was played in from the right and Steve Feeney set up Adam Lecky who drilled the ball under Elliott Morris to make it 1-1.
Within 2 minutes the Glens had a great opportunity to make it 2-1. McCaffrey found Holland and he drove in from the right before firing a low shot on target which McCusker did well to keep out. The ball fell to the inrushing Jonathan Smith but he couldn’t control his effort and the ball flew wide of the target. 5 minutes from the break Ciaran Caldwell lost possession too easily in midfield and as the Mallards broke Jay Magee was forced to commit a foul on the edge of the area. Cathal Beacom took the free kick but his 20 yard effort flew over the crossbar. On 44 minutes Glentoran sprung forward. McCaffrey was played in but elected to try and find Smith instead of shooting and the chance was wasted. Elliott Morris then had to be alert to keep out a Michael McCrudden effort before the Glens had one more chance prior to the halftime whistle when Caldwell was felled 25 yards from goal. Smith took the free kick but his shot went well wide of the far post.
For the second half, Steven Gordon came on to replace the ineffective Caldwell. In the opening exchanges of the second period both sides tried their luck from distance. Firstly it was Johnny Lafferty with a 20+ yard effort which moved in the wind and Elliott Morris was grateful to palm it away. Then Jay Magee hit one from around 35 yards. Again the conditions made it difficult for the keeper but McCusker did well to gather the ball at the second attempt. 9 minutes into the second half Glentoran got their noses in front again. Jonny Addis found Steven Gordon and his first time ball out to the left was latched on to by Steven McCullough. McCullough fired a delightful cross into the danger area and Jonathan Smith was on hand to score his 3rd goal in 3 games. On the hour mark Smith had another opportunity but fired a 25 yard free kick over the top.
Moments later at the other end the assistant referee adjudged that Glens’ keeper, Elliott Morris had handled the ball just outside the area. Referee Crangle awarded a free kick and Morris was shown a yellow card. The Glentoran wall did well to block the resulting shot but in the follow up the ball was drilled into the breaking wall again. This time Crangle pointed to the spot. Given the distance and the power of the shot it’s hard to fathom how any ‘infringement’ could be deemed deliberate. The spot kick stood though and Jason McCartney duly dispatched it to level things up once more at 2-a-piece. On 67 minutes Ballinamallard United could have went in front. Lafferty fired a dangerous ball into the box but although Steve Feeney got on the end of it he couldn’t keep his effort on target. 4 minutes later Johnny Lafferty had a further opportunity but drilled his shot into the side netting.
With 73 minutes played Glentoran went in front for the third time. Steven Gordon received the ball on the right and side stepped the defender before picking out Fra McCaffrey on the edge of the box. McCaffrey’s shot took a deflection and although McCusker got a hand to it, he couldn’t prevent it crossing the line. 10 minutes from time it was almost 4. Steven Gordon latched onto a ball just inside the area. His shot looked destined for the top corner but McCusker did really well to turn in behind....for a goal kick, both referee and linesman failing to see the keeper’s excellent reaction save! The points were secured in the 83rd minute when Stephen McAlorum won the ball on the edge of the area and fed Smith on the right. His delicious cross was met at the back post by Curtis Allen who slid the ball home to make it 4-2. Adam Lecky scuffed his shot a minute later when he’d the chance to reduce the deficit and the final opportunity of the game in the 92nd minute saw Steven Gordon’s chip shot drift wide of the far post.
So back to back wins for Alan Kernaghan’s men sees them retain 6th place in the Danske Bank Premiership. Next up is another away trip, this time to Portadown.
Glentoran: Morris, Holland, McCullough, Addis, Magee, McAlorum (capt), Henderson, Caldwell, McCaffrey, Smith & Allen.
Sub: Gordon for Caldwell (46). Unused subs: Hogg, O’Hanlon, Cafolla & Hamill.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell