Glentoran manager Alan Kernaghan is still waiting on his first win after his team were held to a 1-1 draw at The Oval against lowly Dungannon Swifts. Young forward Jonathan Smith wasted a glorious opportunity to give the Glens the lead in the 16th minute when he missed a penalty. Dungannon took the lead in the 47th minute when Andy Mitchell headed home Paul McElroy’s cross from point blank range.
Smith atoned for his penalty miss in the 55th minute when he lashed the ball into the roof of the net after a delightful pass from Ciaran Caldwell. The result leaves the East Belfast outfit in 6th position in the table and without a win in their last three league games. It was a bitterly cold afternoon in East Belfast and both sides were desperate for the three points before kick-off. Alan Kernaghan’s men almost took the lead in the 8th minute when Karl Hamill met Jonathan Smith’s corner but he was denied a goal when David Armstrong cleared his header off the line.
Armstrong turned from hero to villain when his scything challenge brought down Jonathan Smith in the area conceding a penalty in the process. Smith dusted himself down to take the penalty but his low effort was brilliantly saved by Swifts keeper Andy Coleman. The visitors almost took the lead in the 24th minute when Paul McElroy’s rasping 30-yard effort was tipped over the bar by Elliot Morris at full stretch. The Swifts spurned a glorious chance with the last kick of the half when Cormac Burke blasted the ball over the bar from inside the area after some great work by McElroy down the left hand side.
If Dungannon boss Rodney McAree thought his side had blown their opportunity to score the game’s opening goal then he was proved wrong just a minute after the restart. Paul McElroy went on another marauding run down the left channel and whipped a cross to the far post where Andrew Mitchell was on hand to head home from close range. The Glens almost equalised in the 53rd minute when Karl Hamill combined with Ciaran Caldwell whose fierce shot was beaten away by Coleman in the Dungannon goal. Just two minutes later they went one better when young Jonathan Smith drew them level. Ciaran Caldwell picked the ball up on the edge of the D and his first time pass into the area was pounced upon by Smith who lashed the ball into the roof of the net from about 10 yards out.
If the Glentoran faithful were expecting their side to seize the initiative and go on to win the game then they were sorely disappointed. The remainder of the second period was a scrappy affair, perforated with stoppages for various injuries which prevented the game from flowing. The Glens toiled in vain whilst Johnny Addis, who was making his 100th appearance for the club, was marshalling things at the other end. The closest the Glens came to taking the lead was in the 75th minute with a Jonathan Smith free kick. The impressive youngster struck the ball from the edge of the area and it was destined for the top right hand corner before Swifts ‘keeper Coleman pulled off a miraculous one-handed save to tip it over.
The game was marred by a nasty looking ankle injury for Marcus Kane as the final minutes petered out. The draw meant it was a first point on the board for Alan Kernaghan and a first point for Dungannon since September.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell
Glentoran: Morris, Holland, McCullough, Addis, Hamill, McAlorum (capt), Gordon, Kane, Caldwell, McCaffrey & Smith.
Subs: Henderson for Kane (77) and Cafolla for Caldwell (85). Unused: Hogg, O'Hanlon & Fearon.