Glentoran, backed by a large travelling support, travelled to the Ballymena Showgrounds on a bitterly cold January afternoon looking to get their title challenge back on track following a string of disappointing performances and results. Unfortunately, the wait for a win goes on.
The Glens started quite brightly and Danny Purkis fired in a great cross from the left in the 3rd minute which Conor Keeley turned behind for a corner. From the set piece, Purkis saw his overhead kick go wide of the post. A few minutes later a cross from Rhys Marshall on the other side was headed wide by Seanan Clucas. On 20 minutes a mistake from Aaron McCarey gifted the home side a corner but when the ball was played into the area, Clucas was on hand to head clear.
Ballymena United went in front on 24 minutes. Former Glentoran defender, Steven McCullough played the ball down the left. It eventually reached Sean Graham and he was able to turn inside Luke McCullough before driving a low shot under Aaron McCarey. United might have doubled their advantage 4 minutes later when a glancing header from Joshua Kelly went just wide of the post.
10 minutes from the break a long ball forward was again met by the energetic Seanan Clucas but his header was straight at Sean O'Neill. As the Glens searched for an equaliser, Luke McCullough picked out Rory Donnelly with a long diagonal pass. Donnelly controlled it well but then fired his shot wide. A cross from Marcus Kane towards Jay Donnelly was turned behind. Sean Murray swung the corner in and again it was Clucas with the chance. His powerful header was tipped over the bar though by O'Neill.
Halftime: Ballymena United 1-0 Glentoran
2 minutes after the break Glentoran players appealed for a penalty but referee Dunlop allowed play to continue. Ballymena United broke straight down the other end and McCarey did well to keep out a powerful shot from Steven McCullough. Marcus Kane fired a long range effort just over the bar around the hour mark but the Glens struggled to create any meaningful chances and too often resorted to hitting long hopeful balls for Purkis and the Donnellys to chase.
McCarey did well to keep out an effort from Jack Henderson on 74 minutes but he was well beaten 10 minutes later. A punt down field by United keeper, O'Neill was lost in the midfield, initially by Clucas and then by Marshall. Jack Henderson played the ball through to Ryan Waide and he drove into the box before firing past McCarey and into the far corner.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall, Kane (c), McCullough, McClean, Devlin (Wightman), Murray (Plum 62), Clucas, R. Donnelly (Roy 62), J. Donnelly & Purkis.