Stephen McAlorum spared Glentoran from yet another draw this afternoon as his stunning late strike proved to be the difference between Glentoran and Dungannon Swifts at the Oval.
The Glens, following a midweek win over Larne in the County Antrim Shield, started very brightly as Curtis Allen slammed his low angled shot into the side netting just 4 minutes in, before the number nine found his face turning red following David Scullion's cutback finding him in space on the six yard line only to emphatically blaze miles over with the goal at his mercy. Again, Scullion and Allen combined as the latter met the formers cross only to glance his header inches wide after 23 minutes and then nine minutes later Kym Nelson's flick saw the same result as Seamus Coleman, despite all of the early pressure, was fairly untested by the home side. That all changed with 36 minutes played as Allen drove forward, dipped his shoulder and rifled a blockbuster of a shot toward the top corner - only for Coleman to react instantaneously and tip the ball onto the bar.
As the half-time whistle blew you could forgive many Glenmen for fearing yet another draw in a game that they should arguably have won given the chances and half-chances that their side squandered so unceremoniously in the opening period, and in the early stages of the second half it really did seem like it'd be another one of those days as Allen wasted yet another opportunity as he volleyed well wide with 47 minutes played. Ten minutes later and McAlorum gave everyone a taster for what was to come as his incredible 30-yard volley drew an acrobatic save from Coleman as the ball whistled towards the top corner.
However, at 0-0 it could've and probably should've got a lot worse as, with an hour gone, Jamie Glackin lobbed Elliott Morris and - but for subtitute Steven McCullough's goalline headed clearance, and Grant Hutchinson's horrendously sliced follow-up - it would've been 1-0 Swifts. Thankfully this seemed to kick the east Belfast outfit into life and on 71 minutes Willie Garrett's thunderbolt on-the-spin following a Scullion corner rattled the crossbar with Coleman well beaten. 3 minutes later and Glentoran managed to get their hat-trick of hitting the woodwork as birthday boy Jonny Addis' header looped up, over Coleman and down onto the top of the Sydenham End upright. In all honesty it felt as though it just wasn't our day and more dropped points beckoned. Thankfully up stepped Stephen McAlorum; with 10 minutes to play the little ginger dynamo latched on to a headed clearance 25 yards out, skilfully beat his marker with a first-touch Cruyff turn and blasted a left foot rocket in off the post to great joy and relief on the terraces and in the stand.
The Glens held on as their recent downfall of conceding last second winners or equalisers didn't come to fruition and for only the third time in the league this season the red, green and black held on for all three points. Next up is a trip to Glenavon on Saturday 4th October before a second trip to Mourneview 3 days later for the 3rd round of the Wasp Solutions League Cup. Hope to see you all there.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.
Highlights and managers reaction on BBC Sport NI HERE
Glentoran: Morris, Henderson, Kane, Addis, Garrett, McAlorum, Howland, Scullion, Stewart, Nelson and Allen.
Subs: McCullough for Kane (50), McKee for Stewart (71) and McCaffrey for Nelson (71).