Glentoran battled hard at Mourneview Park on Friday night in the Danske Bank Premiership and secured a point with their first clean sheet of this league campaign. In the starting line up were Kym Nelson and Steven Gordon, both making their 50th appearance for the club.
The home side started well with Joel Cooper just failing to connect wiith a cross from the right in the 2nd minute. On 11 minutes Glentoran had a lucky escape when a corner from the left was met by Rhys Marshall. His header hit the crossbar before Stephen McAlorum hacked the ball clear. Moments later Calum Birney conceded a free kick and Aaron Hogg did well to keep the set piece out. The East Belfast side were struggling to get out of their own half but on 20 minutes were awarded a free kick which McAlorum took. He got the return ball from Steven Gordon but his subsequent ball into the area drifted over the Glenavon crossbar. The home side continued to look the more likely to score and James Singleton went close from yet another Glenavon corner. On 25 minutes Glentoran finally got their first serious effort on goal; Curtis Allen's 20 yard effort deflecting off Kyle Neill for a corner. Just before the half hour mark a driven cross from the left was met by Eoin Bradley. His header looped over Hogg but struck the upright and Jonny Addis was on hand to clear the danger. Glentoran went straight down the other end and Gordon found Allen on the edge of the area. He drifted past the defender before firing a shot just wide of the target.
Conor McMenamin had an effort on goal on 37 minutes but the shot took a deflection and with the pace taken off the ball Tuffey was able to gather it easily. A minute later glenavon were awarded another corner but although the ball reached Rhys Marshall he couldn't hit the target with a free header. 5 minutes from the interval Kym Nelson found McMenamin. He cut inside Kyle Neill and Jonathan Tuffey was forced to scramble his low shot round the post. From the resulting corner the ball broke to Jonny Addis but he couldn't keep his effort down. The last chance of the half fell to Curtis Allen but his flicked header was just too high.
It was a much improved Glentoran after the breakand within 5 minutes of the restart both Conor McMenamin and Curtis Allen had gone close with curling shots from the edge of the penalty area. Glenavon then went on the offensive again with Barry Holland clearing the first effort, Aaron Hogg saving the second and finally Jonny Addis blocking a goal bound shot. On 53 minutes the Lurgan Blues should have broken the deadlock. David Scullion failed to keep possession and Glenavon broke down the right. Andy Hall's low cross found Joel Cooper in the 6-yard box but he somehow managed to scoop the ball over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy. The Glentoran defence continued to hold firm with all of the back four putting in excellent performances. Aaron Hogg made an excellent save on 63 minutes when Kevin Braniff's free kick form the left corner of the 18-yard box looked destined for the bottom corner of the net. On 70 minutes a free kick by David Scullion almost caught Tuffey out and the keeper just managed to turn the ball over the bar. Marcus Kane's header from the corner was then turned wide before Allen had another effort blocked. Moments later a high ball into the Glenavon penalty area saw Jonathan Tuffey and Kris Lindsay collide. Referee Hunter bizarrely gave the home side a free kick. the alleged culprit, Curtis Allen, was suitable baffled as were most of the spectators! Both sides continued to press for a winner with McMenamin unlucky at one end whilst Barry Holland was forced to clear the danger at the other. With just 4 minutes remaining the best chance of the game, from a Glentoran perspective, fell to Steven Gordon. He controlled the ball 16 yards from goal but fired straight at Tuffey.
Match highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.
Glentoran: Hogg, Holland, Kane, Birney, Addis, McAlorum (capt), Nelson, Gordon, Scullion, McMenamin & Allen.
Subs: McCaffrey for Scullion and Gibson for Nelson