Another poor showing from Glentoran gave Cliftonville the three points in this Belfast derby at Solitude on Saturday. The Glens, sporting an alternate white kit for the first time this season, made a couple of changes with youngster Johnny Smith making his first start for the club.
In all honesty this was a fairly dull game with chances few and far between. In fact, it took until the 37th minute for a shot to be registered on goal. Cliftonville had the majority of the pressure in the first half, however the Glens defence stood strong and when the first effort on Hogg's goal came from a Marty Donnelly free-kick eight minutes before the break, the big number 18 was on hand to gather with relative ease.
With 5 minutes to go until the break the game sparked into life. First of all, Stevie Gordon was played through on goal but with the ball bouncing away from him he could only stick out a toe and watch Conor Devlin tip the ball over the bar. Then, at the other end, a Cliftonville corner was met powerfully by Caoimhin Bonner but Scullion cleared off the line. Just a minute later and the Glens were pegged back inside their own box again. However when Stephen Garrett's volley from 20 yards flew goalwards no less than five Glentoran defenders threw themselves in front of the ball.
After what was an excellent defensive display but an attack void of even the smallest amount of creativity, the Glens came into the break arguably fortunate to still be level. Manager Eddie Patterson clearly instructed his players to play higher up the pitch because the east Belfast outfit came out from the interval with much more attacking promise than before.
Smith was causing the Reds problems down the wing and just three minutes into the second half he had a great chance to put a ball in with Cliftonville backpedalling but his weak foot let him down and the ball sailed harmlessly over the bar. Unfortunately the second forty-five was just as lifeless as the first with Glentoran's only chance of note coming on 75 minutes when Curtis Allen's superb backheel found substitute Conor McMenamin. With two players waiting for a tap in all the ex-Linfield striker had to do was play the ball across goal but he opted to go for goal himself, with Devlin blocking both the initial attempt and then the rebound too.
The away side would be left to rue that miss. Just eight minutes after, Marcus Kane was sent off for a second yellow card after he brought down the Reds' winger running through the middle of the park. Then, to make matters worse for Glentoran after losing arguably their most influential player, Cliftonville went in front. A cross from the left found an unmarked David McDaid and he rose relatively comfortably to nod home past Hogg.
Another defeat then for Glentoran and it is vital that they stop this rut before we slip too far down the table. Next week we're away to Dungannon Swifts where Patterson's men will be looking to get their first win on the road in the league. But, first up there's the visit of H&W Welders in the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday night at the Oval. Kick off is 7:45pm.
Glentoran: Hogg, Holland, Kane, Magee, Garrett, McAlorum (capt), Gordon, McCaffrey, Scullion, Allen and Smith.
Subs: McMenamin for Scullion, McCullough for McCaffrey and Addis for Smith