For the second time this season Glentoran welcomed the Sky Sports cameras to The Oval and they witnessed a frustrating 1-1 draw with Ballymena United.
On the hunt for a first league win at The Oval since early September, Glentoran made two changes to the team that lost to Coleraine last time out. Conal Delaney and James Knowles coming in for McMullan and Gordon.
On a blustery evening at The Oval both teams struggled to settle early on, with miskicks and misplaced passes dominating early part of proceedings. Glentoran were first to register an attempt on goal when Dan Kelly met a long range Knowles free kick but his header was straight at
Glendinning in the visitors goal. 10 minutes in, a nice run from Curtis Allen caused problems for the Braidmen as he beat Balmer and nutmegged Thompson but saw his shot deflected wide for a corner.
This led to a series of Glentoran corners but the away goal wasn’t threatened from any of them. After a quarter of an hour Ballymena’s first dangerous attack led to the opening goal. An overhit cross from McCloskey ran to Willie Faulkner, he played it back to Gary Thompson who showed quick feet and was tripped by Kane, a clear penalty to Ballymena. Up stepped Cathair Friel and he sent Morris the wrong way for his 8th goal of the season, giving the visitors the early lead. At this stage the momentum was clearly with Ballymena and they followed up the goal with a period of pressure.
They forced a couple of corners and looked dangerous in wide areas but never really carved out a clear chance with the final ball lacking quality in the windy conditions. Just after the half hour Glentoran showed some life, Allen beat Balmer in the air, finding Tiarnan McNicholl, he teed Allen up but his shot was deflected for a corner. From the resulting corner Robbie McDaid headed wide with a free header, the former Leeds man will have been disappointed not to hit the target. In what was becoming an end to end half Ballymena went close again through Thompson and McMurray. The latter in particular should have done better but his shot, when played through, was tame. Just before the half Knowles won a corner after good work out on the right but it almost led to disaster for The Glens, as Ballymena cleared and launched a swift counter attack. Thankfully for the home side Stevie McCullough perhaps picked the wrong option on the break choosing to play in Friel on his left over the open McMurray on his right and Delaney did well to keep pace and tackle Friel before the forward could double his tally. In first half stoppage time Ballymena broke again but failed to add to their lead, this time it was McCloskey, fed well by McMurray but a poor touch let the former Carrick man down and allowed the onrushing Morris to smother at the winger’s feet.
Halftime Glentoran 0 - 1 Ballymena United
Gary Haveron opted to make a change at half time, bringing Dylan Davidson on for Robbie McDaid. This sparked Glentoran and they instantly looked more dangerous. They could have levelled two minutes into the half when Sterling played a good ball to find Delaney, he chested down in the area and teed up Knowles but the shot was scuffed his shot wide. Ten minutes into the half Glentoran were level after Davidson got his reward for the pressure he was piling on Jim Ervin. The former Preston man outmuscled the Ballymena skipper down the line and picked out a low cross which Glendinning could only palm out into the middle of the crowded penalty area. James Knowles reacted first and buried the chance.
Ballymena almost hit back immediately with another counter attack. McMurray found space again and his low powerful shot was well saved by Morris then Marcus Kane did brilliantly to beat Leroy Millar to the rebound, saving a goal. Minutes later Kane went close at the other end seeing a drive blocked by Flynn and a volley fly over, then came the chance to win it. Kane played Allen in behind the visitors defence, Curtis tried to clip the ball over the onrushing Glendinning but also cleared the crossbar. From then on it was a game of half chances, Friel had a goal correctly ruled out for offside and McMurray was again denied by Morris. Leroy Millar wasted a late free kick and it looked like the game was going to end quietly.
That was until one last flash of action, Curtis Allen latched onto a through pass and went down under a challenge from Ballymena keeper Glendinning. Referee Raymond Heatherington immediately cautioned the forward for diving and whilst the Glens striker was looking for contact from the keeper replays show he was clipped by Glendinning who was perhaps fortunate. That was the last meaningful action of an even game that in truth neither side dominated with a draw probably the fair result.
Glentoran have a weekend off now thanks to Glenavon International call ups and that game will now be played on Tuesday 14th November with a 7:45pm kick off.
Photographs by Pacemaker
Full Time - Glentoran 1 - 1 Ballymena United.
Glentoran: Morris, Sterling, Kelly, Addis, Redman, Kane (c), Knowles, Delaney (McCawl 80), McNicholl,
Allen, McDaid (Davidson 46).
Subs not used: McMullan, Gordon, Ferrin.