Glentoran missed the chance to move into the top 6 in the Danske Bank Premiership following a draw at the Ballymena Showgrounds this afternoon. Dale Gorman and Gael Bigirimana dropped to the bench for this game with Hrvoje Plum and Joe Crowe coming into the starting XI.
The home side started brightly on what was a difficult surface and in the opening minutes there were several chances for them to edge in front. Leroy Millar tested Dayle Coleing but the big Glentoran keeper saved comfortably . Hrvoje Plum then blocked a chance on the edge of the area before Trai Hume fired wide of the post. Glentoran's first opportunity came from a corner, won by Cricky Gallagher. Hrvoje Plum fired it into the box and Jay Donnelly was unlucky to see his header flash wide. On the quarter hour mark Donnelly tried his luck from outside the area but his shot lacked power and was comfortable dealt with by Jordan Williamson in the Sky Blues' goal. Midway through the opening period the Glens counter-attacked from a Ballymena United corner with Hrvoje Plum breaking towards the halfway line before sliding the ball forward to Jay Donnelly. Donnelly's shot was on target but well saved by Williamson.
Ballymena United had the better of the possession and terrirorial advantage but the Glens continued to look dangerous on the counter attack. On the half hour mark, following a superb run and pass from Jay Donnelly, Paul O'Neill was through 1 v 1 with the United keeper but Williamson denied the Glentoran number 9, saving with his feet. Moments later a Marcus Kane pass created a chance for Robbie McDaid but our top scorer blasted his shot high over the crossbar. The Sky Blues then went close with a 25-yard free kick; Seamus McCartan's effort going narrowly wide of the target. A couple of minutes from the break a Ballymena United was cleared down field and Jay Donnelly outpaced the home defence however once again Jordan Williamson saved with his feet.
Halftime: Ballymena United 0-0 Glentoran
The home side were much more effective in the second half and Seamus McCartan forced a really good save out of Dayle Coleing, the big Glentoran stopper turning the Ballymena United's number 15's shot behind for a corner. McCartan had another great opportunity on 63 minutes but was denied by a superb last ditch tackle from Caolan Marron. Marron, along with the rest of the back four had good games with Luke McCullough in particular looking very composed. They were finally breached though in the 65th monute. A Ross Redman free kick, midaway into the Glentoran half and out on the left flank, was swung into the penalty area. Although the defenders outnumbered the attackers 6 to 3 and Paddy McClean got his head to the ball first, the ball bounced kindly for Ciaran Kelly and his header found the bottom corner of the net. 1-nil to the hosts.
Mick McDermott used his three substitutes but Glentoran struggled to create any clear cut chances and indeed it was the home side who looked the more likely to add to their lead. With 2 minutes of injury time signalled it looked like Glentoran were heading for another disappointing result. Our captain had other ideas though! Time had almost expired when Caolan Marron attempted to put one more cross into the box. It wasn't the best delivery but Jude Winchester could only clear it as far as Marcus Kane and he fired a 25-yard shot into the bottom corner, ironically with his wrong foot! A year on from a personal & family tragedy, Kane looked skywards in his celebration. That one was for Harrie..... and what a goal it was.
Fulltime: Ballymena United 1-1 Glentoran
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: Coleing, Marron, Kane (c), McCullough, McClean, Gallagher (Clucas 77), Plum, Crowe (McDonagh 68), O'Neill ( R. Donnelly 68), J. Donnelly & McDaid