Glentoran and Portadown met at the Oval this evening in the Danske Bank Premiership. As has become the norm over the past number of years it was a bruising, physical encounter with no quarter asked or given.
Aaron Hogg retained his place in goals and, following his heroic performance last Saturday at Seaview, the big keeper was in action again with just 3 minutes on the clock, collecting a dangerous cross into his 6-yard box. Glentoran won a corner on 11 minutes; good inter-play between Scullion and Allen forcing Casement to clear. Calum Birney got his head on the resultant kick but his header cleared David Miskelly's crossbar. Just before the quarter hour mark the home side got their noses in front. David Howland played the ball into the penalty area where Fra McCaffrey met it. McCaffrey's shot was saved by Miskelly but the rebound fell to David Scullion who buried it from close range. 10 minutes later the visitors had a chance to level but Garry Breen's header from a corner was saved by Hogg at the second attempt. A mis-placed pass from David Howland presented Portadown with another opportunity but Chris Casement dragged his shot wide. Kym Nelson found skipper, Stephen McAlorum in space on 28 minutes. Following his spectacular strike in the League Cup last week, McAlorum went for goal again only to see his effort deflect off a defender for a corner. McAlorum, who seemed to be targeted repeatedly throughout the game was again fouled in the midfeld area on 34 minutes. Advantage was played by the referee but Fra McCaffrey's cross into the danger area was scrambled clear. 5 minutes from the interval Peter McMahon's spectacular effort was brilliantly saved by Hogg, the keeper getting his fingertips to the ball and turning it onto the post before it was cleared by the defence. A minute later though, Portadown were level. A long hopeful ball forward found Mark McAllister who went down just inside the area under a challenge from Calum Birney. The referee awarded a penalty and Darren Murray scored from the spot.
The second half produced more of the same with both sides fighting out the most of it in midfield with few clear cut chances. David Howland tried his luck from long range (56) but didn't connect properly and Miskelly was able to watch the ball run away for a goal kick. Mark McAllister turned Jay Magee on the corner of the 6-yard box on 58 minutes but shot wide. Within 60 seconds we almost had a contender for 'goal of the season'. A long ball forward down the left by Jay Magee found Curtis Allen. His first time cross into the area was met by David Scullion but, unluckily for Scullion and the home fans, his volley was straight at Ports' keepre, Miskelly. Scullion, chasing what looked like a lost cause , cut a ball back to Allen in the penalty area but the Glentoran striker's shot was turned over the bar by the goalkeeper. Tim Mouncey shot well over (70) and McCaffrey's shot (73) was easliy held by Miskelly. With time ticking away Glentoran substitute, Danny McKee worked a great one-two with McCaffrey but McKee was denied by the Portadown custodian. In the final minute the visitors almost won it when Robert Garrett was allowed space to shoot 30 yards from goal. Aaron Hogg was equal to it though, diving to his right to turn the ball around the post.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell
Highlights and reaction on BBC Sport NI HERE
Glentoran: Hogg, Holland, Kane, Birney, Magee, McAlorum (capt), Howland, Nelson, Scullion, McCaffrey & Allen.
Subs: Gordon for Howland (78), McKee for Allen (81) and Stewart for McCaffrey (90).