A late equaliser from Matty Burrows denied Glentoran three points at a sunny Mourneview Park this afternoon. Manager Eddie Patterson made two changes to the starting line up for last week’s victory over Donegal Celtic, with Eamonn Murray coming in for the injured Jim O’Hanlon, and Jimmy Callacher replacing Richard Clarke, perhaps in response to Glenavon’s reportedly robust approach at Solitude last week.
The home side had the better of the opening exchanges, and it was three players who were playing against their former employers who were involved in the first significant action of the game. Gary Hamilton sent Kyle Neill away on the left and his low cross looked set to finish in the back of the net, before Jay Magee cleared brilliantly. John McGuigan and Stephen Carson were linking well in midfield and provided the first chance for the Glens on twenty three minutes. McGuigan sent Carson marauding down the left, his cross was controlled by the in-form Andy Waterworth with his back to goal and his shot on the turn was well saved by Glenavon goalkeeper Andy Coleman. The Glens upped their game after this and came closer still five minutes later. Again it was Carson, this time cutting in from the left from where he was forced into an early shot from twenty yards which cannoned off the cross bar.
On thirty two minutes Glenavon should have gone in front. Kyle Neill crossed from the left to an unmarked Guy Bates whose header from eight yards should have found the back of the net, but Elliott Morris was equal to it, deftly pushing the ball over the bar. With a couple of minutes left before the break Waterworth and Carson once again linked up, this time Waterworth crossing from the right but Carson’s shot from twelve yards was well blocked. Just as it looked as though we would go into the break scoreless the Glens took the lead with the simplest of goals. The Glenavon defence failed to deal with a long clearance from Morris and Waterworth ran clear to confidently bury the ball low past Coleman.
Just as in the first half Glenavon made the better start after the break and ten minutes in Bates, Glenavon’s man of the match, sent a low twenty five yard free kick just wide of the post. Andy Waterworth was still posing the biggest threat to the Glenavon defence and almost doubled his tally on sixty five minutes when he picked up a ball in the Glenavon box and got a fierce shot on target which was superbly turned round the post by Coleman. From the resulting corner Colin Nixon’s header looked to be creeping over the line but once again Coleman scrambled the ball to safety. While Glenavon were not posing too great a threat the Glens were desperately in need of an insurance goal and got their first warning on eighty three minutes. Good work by Bates set up Glenavon substitute Matty Burrows and his goal bound shot from just inside the box was bravely blocked by Jimmy Callacher.
With three minutes left on the watch Glenavon snatched their equaliser when Elliott Morris attempted to punch clear from a Gary Hamilton corner but didn’t get enough distance on the ball. It fell to an unmarked Matty Burrows sixteen yards out who controlled and this time made no mistake, burying the ball into the top left hand corner. From being seemingly in control it was a nervous last few minutes for Glentoran and Glenavon can feel aggrieved with referee Ross Dunlop who failed to allow the advantage to the home side on a couple of occasions late on when they had good chances to break clear on goal. However it was the Glens who really should have snatched a late winner. Two minutes into stoppage time Waterworth flicked the ball through to substitute Martin Murray who ran clear, but, under pressure from a defender, pulled his shot well wide.
So a reasonable performance in the first away game of the season, but manager Eddie Patterson will be rueing the missed chances and his side will not be able to afford to be so wasteful as they face the tough trip to Solitude next Saturday.
Elliott Morris, Sean Ward, Colin Nixon, Jay Magee, Marcus Kane, Mark Clarke (sub Richard Clarke 61 mins), Eamonn Murray (sub Martin Murray 74 mins), Jimmy Callacher, John McGuigan (sub Jason Hill 90 mins), Stephen Carson, Andy Waterworth
Highlights from BBC Sport NI HERE