A 1-all draw at the Ballymena Showgrounds this afternoon saw the Glens lose ground in the race for the Danske Bank Premiership title with both rivals winning their games.
Glentoran made one change to the XI who started at Dungannon last weekend; Paddy McClean coming in for Darren Cole. The first chance of the game came on 4 minutes when Shay McCartan carried the ball from inside his own half, driving forward before going for goal from around 20 yards but his effort was well wide of the mark. Skipper, Leroy Millar had the home side's first attempt shortly afterwards but again the keeper wasn't troubled. The Sky Blues then won a couple of corners in quick succession, the second one being cleared as far as Josh Kelly but he fired well over.
On 18 minutes Rory Donnelly won a corner on the right. Bobby Burns took it and firstly Paddy McClean at the back post and then Seanan Clucas, had efforts on goal blocked. A few minutes later Shay McCartan again broke clear, this time on the left. He put a low, dangerous cross into the penalty area but it was well defended by Sean Graham. Midway through the half a long clearance from Aaron McCarey was collected by Conor McMenamin. He found Jay Donnelly in the area but the Glentoran striker dragged his shot wide. On the half hour mark Paddy McClean fouled Michael Place as he was going away from goal. The 25-yard free kick was taken by Ryan Waide but he failed to beat the Glentoran defensive wall.
On 33 minutes Shay McCartan was taken down crudely some 35 yards from goal. McCartan took the set piece himself, opting, optimistically to go for goal. Unfortunately he was well off target. Just as we approached the interval the Glens won another corner. Sean Murray took it but the United defence dealt with it comfortably. The ball was returned to Murray though and he went for goal; his curlig effort producing an excellent save from Sean O'Neill.
Halftime: Ballymena Utd 0-0 Glentoran
Ballymena United came out fired up at the start of the second half, pressurising the Glens defence with a couple of corners and a long throw in however they were denied an opening goal following a decent save from Aaron McCarey. They kept pressing though and were rewarded on 49 minutes with the opening goal. A long throw in from the left was flicked on at the near post. Caolan Marron, Bobby Burns and Paddy McClean were all in the vicinity but nobody managed to clear the ball and it reached Ryan Waide who stabbed it home from just outside the 6-yard box.
The goal seemed to shake Glentoran out of, what had been until then, lifeless performance and the team began to demonstrate much more urgency. Just 5 minutes later play was allowed to go on following a foul on Bobby Burns. Shay McCartan picked up the ball and was taken down just inside the area. Penalty! Jay Donnelly stepped up and sent Sean O'Neill the wrong way - game on!
On 56 minutes Ryan Waide had another opportunity for the home side but fired over from the edge of the area. Shortly afterwards a bad foul on Seanan Clucas gave the Glens a free kick wide on the right, midway inside the Ballymena half. Sean Murray swung the ball into the area but Rory Donnelly headed over the bar. A long ball then found Jay Donnelly. He, in turn, picked out Conor McMenamin whse low drive seemed destined for the bottom corner until Sean O'Neill turned it around the post, much to the disappointment of the large travelling support. The resulting corner saw both Paddy McClean and Seanan Clucas just fail to direct the ball in.
On 63 minutes Conor McMenamin's cross was almost turned in by Clucas. The ball broke to substitute, Robbie McDaid but his effort was well kept out by the United keeper. Moments later the ball was back in the home penalty area. It appeared to strike the arm of Ross Redman but nothing was given despite the Glentoran players in the vicinity being adamant that another spot kick should have been awarded. Rhys Marshall then linked with Robbie McDaid on the right. The cross into the area was headed over though by Conor McMenamin. The last 15 or 20 minutes saw the home side resorting to significant time wasting. With both sides making 3 substitutes and the trainer being called onto the field on several occasions suporters were expecting much more than the 3 additional minutes that were added. The home side saw the 3 minutes out though and both sides had to settle for a point.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall, Burns, Marron, McClean, Murray (Powers 61), Clucas (c), McCartan (Kane 89), R. Donnelly (McDaid 61), J. Donnelly & McMenamin.