A single goal victory at the Bet McLean Oval coupled with results elsewhere sees Glentoran sit top of the Danske Bank Premiership this evening.
Jay Donnelly was the only change to the team which defeated Coleraine on Tuesday evening, Glentoran's leading goal scorer this season, coming in for Michael O'Connor.
Conditions were poor with strong winds and occasional heavy rain making things difficult for the players. Unusually, Glentoran attacked the Sydenham End in the first half with the wind assisting them.
It took a while though before we'd the first chance. That came on 11 minutes when Jay Donnelly beat the offside trap only to be denied by a fine save by 'Point's 17 year old goalkeeper, Stephen McMullan. On the quarter hour mark a corner from Hrvoje Plum was met by Paddy McClean but his header was deflected wide. On 20 minutes a great pass from Caolan Marron reached Hrvoje Plum. He in turn senT Robbie McDaid away but with Jay Donnelly waiting in the centre, McDaid's cross was deflected behind.
Midway through the first half Paddy McClean decided to try his luck from distance but was well off target. 25 minutes in the Glens broke well down the left. A superb cross from Bobby Burns reached Jay Donnelly but he mishit his shot. Moments later though Jay did connect, his shot from the edge of the area forcing Stephen McMullan into a good save. Rhys Marshall then put another dangerous ball into the area but it was well defended by the visitors. On 33 minutes a rare Warrenpoint Town attack was broken up by the excellent Rhys Marshall.
Glentoran's dominance finally paid off in the 39th minute. A foul on Jay Donnelly out near the right touchline, about 30 yards from the corner flag, resulted in referee Ian McNabb awarding the Glens a free kick. Hrvoje Plum took it and his superb delivery into the area was headed powerfully home by Robbie McDaid. The Glens almost added a second just before the break. 'Point cleared yet another Glentoran corner but the ball was picked up on the edge of the box by Hrvoje Plum. He found Sean Murray who unleashed a really powerful strike towards goal only to be denied by an outstanding save from McMullan in the visitors' goal.
Halftime: Glentoran 1-0 Warrenpoint Town
Despite Warrenpoint Town having the advantage of the conditions it was Glentoran who continued in control at the start of the second half. Sean Murray had a great effort saved before Conor McMenamin saw his follow up shot go just wide of the post. On 53 minutes Aaron McCarey did well to hold on to a cross-shot from ex-Glentoran midfielder, Fra McCaffrey. The home side almost doubled their advantage on the hour mark. A cross from Bobby Burns was met at the back post by Rhys Marshall but his shot hit the side netting. Warrenpoint had the chance to draw level on 63 minutes when Daniel Byrne got on the end of a corner but he couldn't keep his header down.
The visitors were beginning to cause a few problems but the Glentoran defence remained solid. On a breakaway, Hrvoje Plum's long pass out of defence sent Conor McMenamin away only for the Glentoran number 24 to be hauled down close to the right corner of the 18-yard box. It was McMenamin's last action of the game as Glentoran made a triple substitution. Jay Donnelly and Sean Murray also left the action with Shay McCartan, Rory Donnelly and skipper Marcus Kane coming on. It was great to see Moko finally back in the side. When things settled down, Hrvoje Plum took the free kick but couldn't test the keeper, the Warrenpoint Town wall standing firm.
The last quarter hour had the home support on edge. On 79 minutes a cross from the left was deflected by Rhys Marshall and Aaron McCarey did really well to turn the ball behind for a corner. The Glens needed a second goal but just couldn't make the breakthrough. Warrenpoint Town forced a couple of late corners but the home defence was determined to keep a clean sheet. The final whistle brought a mixture of relief and joy. The mood was lifted even more when the results from today's other games were read out by the PA announcer. There's a long way to go but tonight Glentoran sit top of the Danske Bank Premiership.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall, Burns, Marron, McClean (c), Plum, Clucas, Murray (Kane 70), J. Donnelly (R. Donnelly 70), McMenamin (McCartan 70) & McDaid