Glentoran's run of victories in the Danske Bank Premiership was ended by Ballymena United at the Oval this evening.
In difficult conditions, the Glens conceded a goal in each half, both from corners but even with a wind advantage in the second half, rarely tested Jordan Williamson in the visitors' goal.
Manager, Mick McDermott reverted to the team which beat Linfield at the Oval a week ago with Dale Gorman, Ciaran O'Connor and Gael Bigirimana dropping to the bench. Also on the bench tonight was Robbie McDaid, back from injury.
Hrvoje Plum had a shot from the edge of the area blocked in the opening minutes but it was Ballymena United who created the first real opportunity in the 9th minute. Cricky Gallagher committed a foul just outside the box and former Glentoran player, Ross Redman swung a dangerous free kick into the 6-yard box where Caolan Marron did well to head clear, picking up a knock in the process. Fortunately he was able to resume after treatment.
Both teams really struggled with the very wet and windy conditions and it 26 minutes had passed before we saw a decent effort on goal. Conor McMenamin unleashed a 35-yard strike which looked destined for the top corner only for Jordan Williamson to tip it over the crossbar. The Sky Blues keeper was in action again moments later when Marcus Kane found Conor McMenamin on the left. His cross took a deflection off a defender and looked like it was going to loop over the keeper and into the goal but Williamson managed to palm it away.
10 minutes from the break the visitors went in front. A Tony Kane, wind assisted free kick was turned over his own crossbar by Paddy McClean. Tony Kane then swung the resulting corner in from the left and although Dayle Coleing called for the ball he failed to get a hand on it and it sailed over him and found the far corner of the net. United had another chance just before the break but James Knowles flashed his shot wide of the post.
Halftime: Glentoran 0-1 Ballymena United
Other than a Hrvoje Plum free kick which was turned behind for a corner, Glentoran created few chances before Ballymena United doubled their lead on 61 minutes. Again the goal came from a corner taken by Tony Kane. The ball was allowed to travel across goal and was bundled over the line by Ross Redman. With 20 minutes remaining Conor McMenamin had a chance to pull a goal back when he got his head on a cross from the right but put his effort wide. On 74 minutes it almost got worse for the home side when Paul McIlroy raced clear of the Glens defence but his shot went inches wide of the post.
Substitute Ciaran o'Connor fired a low drive wide of the target and fellow sub, Robbie McDaid saw his header from McMenamin's cross also miss the target. The Glens finally got an effort on target on 92 minutes; Dale Gorman's 30 yard effort being well held by Williamson. All in all a very disappointing evening but we go again on Saturday.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: Coleing, Marron (O'Connor 55), Kane (c), McCullough, McClean, Plum (Gorman 82), Gallagher (McDaid 64), Marshall, J. Donnelly, R. Donnelly & McMenamin.