Eddie Patterson’s five changes to the starting line up after last week’s debacle against Ballymena seemed to have the desired effect as Marcus Kane’s superb goal gave the Glens a thoroughly deserved three points at the Oval this afternoon. Right from the off the home side showed more hunger than their opponents and were perhaps unfortunate not to go into the break with more than a one goal lead.
After enjoying the lion’s share of possession for the opening quarter hour the first clear cut chance came on 17 minutes when Curtis Allen found Fra McCaffrey, on as an early substitute for the injured Kym Nelson, but the number 10 delayed his shot, allowing Ross Redman to make a good block. Three minutes later the roles were reversed as McCaffrey capitalised on a Portadown error to set up Allen, but his lob from the edge of the area over the advancing Billy Brennan drifted wide of the post. Ten minutes before the break some slick play in the midfield ended with Ciaran Caldwell finding Steven Gordon in plenty of space in the Portadown area but his shot was a weak one and Brennan was able to save. Immediately afterwards the Glens were almost made to pay for this miss as at the other end Gary Twigg found Darren Murray in space but the Portadown centre forward curled a good chance wide of the post.
Just as it looked as though the first half would finish scoreless the Glens got the breakthrough that they deserved. Stephen McAlorum and Caldwell linked up brilliantly along the left, Caldwell’s cross just failed to find Allen but the ball fell nicely for Kane who assuredly curled his shot into the top corner with his right foot from just inside the area. Right on the half time whistle Murray had another chance to find the net for the Ports after a neat lay off from Sean Mackle, but his attempted chip was poorly executed and easily gathered by Aaron Hogg.
The Glens continued to have the bulk of the possession after the interval despite further disruption due to injury, Barry Holland being forced to retire to the bench on 48 minutes to be replaced by Jonny Addis. Caldwell was catching the eye in midfield as the Glens pressed forward and perhaps should have done better on 55 minutes as he sent a low shot straight at Brennan after being set up by David Scullion. The former Glenavon midfielder also had a couple of long range efforts sail just over the bar. While the Glens were reasonably comfortable, chances to increase their lead were few and far between and as the full time whistle approached Portadown pressed forward looking for what would have been an undeserved equaliser. However the defence held firm and in the end Hogg didn’t have a serious save to make in the whole ninety minutes.
The game ended in somewhat bizarre fashion as the Glens broke from one of Portadown’s forays forward with a minute left on the watch. Gordon was sent clear on goal only to be brought down by Keith O’Hara just outside the area and referee Mervyn Smyth produced a straight red card for the Portadown captain. However, before the resultant free kick could be taken there was some discussion at the visitors’ bench and Smyth also issued a red to unused Portadown substitute Mark McAllister, presumably for something said to one of the other officials. This proved to be the last significant action of the game and the Oval faithful, very much in contrast to last week, left in upbeat mood and looking forward to next week’s clash with Cliftonville at Solitude.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.
Highlights on Glens TV
Glentoran: Aaron Hogg, Barry Holland (sub Jonny Addis 48 mins), Jay Magee, Willie Garrett, Marcus Kane, David Scullion, Stephen McAlorum, Ciaran Caldwell (sub Conor McMenamin 70 mins), Steven Gordon, Kym Nelson (sub Fra McCaffrey 12 mins), Curtis Allen