Glentoran took maximum points from tonight's Danske Bank Premiership game at the Bet McLean Oval but it took until the 88th minute for the goal to arrive. Danny Purkis was the hero and it was fully deserved as he put in a great shift. Overall though it was a laboured performance with chances few and far between and had the normally prolific Davy McDaid been on form, the story might have had a different ending; the Ballymena United striker spurning 3 great opportunities over the 90 minutes.
With Aaron McCarey missing because of illness, Ollie Webber got a rare opportuinty to start tonight. Danny Purkis and Niall McGinn were also both in from the beginning. The Glens started brightly and created a number of chances in the opening 10 minutes. Early on Conor McMenamin sent Danny Purkis racing down the right. He returned the ball to McMenamin but his curling effort went wide. There was a similar opportunity for McMenamin on 7 minutes and this time he went much closer, the ball going inches past the post. A McMenamin corner to the back post was headed into the side netting by Aidan Wilson and moments later the big Scottish defender got on the end of another cross, this time from Niall McGinn, but his header was straight at Jordan Williamson in the visitors' goal.
Wilson was in the thick of the action at the other end on 13 minutes, getting in a great defensive block to deny McDaid an opener for United. 5 minutes later McDaid got the better of James Singleton but again Aidan Wilson denied him a goal, this time injuring himself in the process. Midway throught the first half there was a let off for Glentoran when a poor clearance once again fell to Davy McDaid. On this occasion though, the United marksman sliced his shot well wide of the target. On 31 minutes another excellent cross from Conor McMenamin might have brought the opening goal with defender Douglas Wilson almost turning the ball into his own goal!
Each side had one more opportunity as the first half came to an end. Kenneth Kane's 25 yard effort failed to trouble Ollie Webber, the ball going well over the top and then at the Sydenham End a cross from Niall McGinn was met by Danny Purkis but his shot clipped the top of the crossbar.
Glentoran 0-0 Ballymena United
5 minutes after the interval McGinn and Singleton linked well on the left side of the penalty area but McGinn's goalbound effort deflected off Craig Farquhar and behind for a corner. Moments later Davy McDaid really should have put Ballymena in front. He got on the end of a cross from the left but failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy. Conor McMenamin then tested the United keeper with a 20-yard drive but Williamson did well to gather the shot. A minute later the Glens might have gone in front when a cross to the back post was headed back across goal by Danny Purkis for James Singleton but he failed to connect when any touch on the ball would have resulted in a goal.
The Glens made a number of substitutions as they looked to get the 3 points which would see them climd a couple of places in the league table but the game looked to be heading for a scoreless outcome. But on 88 minutes that all changed with 2 of the substitutes involved in the goal. Bobby Burns played the ball into the penalty area but it was easily cleared by the United defence. Aaron Wightman won back possession though and found Rhys Marshall. Marshall's forward pass was flicked on by Shay McCartan to Danny Purkis and he got between Redman and Farquhar to slot home from around 12 yards.
The Glens might have added another goal or two in the 5 minutes of added time. Conor McMenamin's long cross-field ball looked to have given Jay Donnelly a great opportunity to make it 2-nil but referee Boyce strangely brought play back and awarded the Glens a free kick when they actually had a very clear advantage! McMenamin had another chance to be the provider for Donnelly on 93 minutes but his pass was slightly behind the striker. Conor McMenamin was then denied in the final minute when Williamson did well to save with his feet to thwart the Northern Ireland international. The final whistle sounded moments later with the main emotion around the Bet McLean Oval being one of relief.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: Webber, Marshall, Kane (c) (McCartan 67), McCullough, Wilson, Burns, Singleton, Devlin (J. Donnelly 82), McGinn (Wightman 74), Purkis & McMenamin