Glentoran were forced to defend a one goal lead for over 20 minutes with 10 men following the dismissal of Jay Magee but held on to take all 3 points in this Danske Bank Premiership fixture.
Following a minutes silence and a minutes applause for the late Dr Malcolm Brodie MBE, the Glens started the game brightly with Andy Waterworth having a couple of early chances. With just 2 minutes gone Ports’ keeper David Miskelly was quickly off his line to clear with Waterworth through on goal. Waterworth then got on the end of a cross from Stephen Carson (11) but his shot was deflected wide for a corner. David Howland played Waterworth in on 14 minutes but again he was unlucky to see his shot come off a defender and go for a corner. On 16 minutes Tim Mouncey was lucky to escape with just a yellow card following a rash tackle on Jay Magee. Portadown’s first real opportunity arrived on 18 minutes when a long throw-in from Aaron Burns was gathered by skipper Elliott Morris at the second attempt. Morris was sharply off his line to clear when Kevin Braniff was put through on goal (20) and he made a fabulous save to deny Gary Twigg (21) from close range. However, referee Raymond Crangle pointed to the penalty spot having adjudged that Magee had impeded Twigg. Magee received a yellow card and Sean Mackle stepped up to take the penalty. Elliott Morris guessed right though and saved the spot kick. Mouncey wasted a chance on 38 minutes, heading wide as another long ball came into the Glentoran penalty area. As the first half drew to a close Portadown stepped up their game and went close with a free kick from Chris Casement.
The home side continued to press after the interval and on 49 minutes Morris did really well to save from Braniff; Calum Birney completing the clearance. Two minutes later Braniff had another opportunity but his effort was well wide of the mark. Glentoran went in front on 58 minutes. Andy Waterworth was fouled in the centre circle but the ball broke to Jimmy Callacher. Referee, Crangle waved play on and Callacher threaded a superb ball through the middle for Richard Clarke to run on to. Clarke, from the edge of the area, poked the ball past a static Miskelly and it crept just inside the left upright. It was Clarke’s 6th goal of the season and his 15th for the club. Kevin Braniff squandered another opportunity on 61 minutes and then on 64, the referee awarded a harsh free kick against Magee, the ball striking him from about 1 yard and the official deciding it was a deliberate hand ball. Braniff took the free kick but the excellent Morris tipped it over the bar. From the resulting corner David Howland was forced to clear off his goal line and the Glens’ rearguard held firm. 20 minutes from time Jay Magee caught Braniff about 25 yards from goal and referee Crangle produced another yellow card for the big Glentoran defender, followed by the inevitable red. On 75 minutes a great right wing cross from Gary Twigg was met by Braniff at the back post. The striker was stretching though and actually took the ball away from the better placed Burns. Marcus Kane replaced Stephen Carson on 77 minutes as the Glens tried to hold on to their slender advantage. Morris saved again from Braniff (79) and then Waterworth missed a great opportunity to finish the Ports off when he raced clear of the defence only to be denied by the foot of Miskelly. Deep into added time Portadown were awarded yet another free kick on the edge of the Glentoran penalty area but Neil McCafferty’s effort sailed over the crossbar and Glentoran had the 3 points.
Match highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.
Glentoran: Morris (capt), Ward, Hill, Magee, Birney, M. Clarke, R. Clarke, Callacher, Howland, Carson & Waterworth.
Sub: Kane for Carson (77)