Glentoran overcame an industrious Ards side to book their place in the last sixteen of the Irish Cup. Second half goals from Danny McKee and Fra McCaffrey gave Eddie Patterson’s side the victory on a bitterly cold afternoon in East Belfast.
The Glens came into game in tremendous form winning six of their last seven games and having hammered Warrenpoint 5-0 in their previous fixture. Ards themselves came into the game in a rich vein of form having won their last five games and scoring 21 goals in the process. Eddie Patterson’s men started the brightest with Jordan Stewart showing some nice touches and Willie Garrett’s distribution from the back particularly impressive early on. Despite their early dominance the Glens failed to convert their possession into any clear cut opportunities.
However it was Ards who created the first real chance of the game in the 20th minute and it was totally against the run of play. Faulkener picked the ball up about thirty yards from goal and ran at the Glentoran defence. The Ards striker was shepherded away from goal but still managed to unleash a shot which was blocked by Johnny Addis. The ball fell into the path of Ards No.7 Craig McMillan who side-footed a first time shot wide of Elliot Morris’ far post from about twelve yards. The Ards midfielder stood with his head in his hands as he knew he’d missed a glorious opportunity to give the visitors the lead. The Glens responded by missing a great opportunity of their own just two minutes later. The livewire Jordan Stewart went another mazy run down the left hand side and his cut back found David Scullion about ten yards from goal and his first time shot was brilliantly blocked by the agile Aaron Shanahan in the Ards goal.
Things began to heat up midway through the first half and a few tasty challenges were exchanged by both sides. One such challenge culminated in the Battle of Ballybeen as Willie Garrett and Craig McMillan traded shoves and insults after the Ards player felt he’d been on the receiving end of a late tackle from the Glentoran defender. The East Belfast side managed to carve open another great opportunity in the 35th minute and it was that man Jordan Stewart who was again the architect. The diminutive midfielder side stepped a flurry of challenges and floated a ball to the back post which was met on the volley by Steven Gordon but his shot went into orbit.
The last chance of the half fell to Ards and but for some instinctive goalkeeping from Elliot Morris the visitors would have taken the lead. The visitors won a free kick on the edge of the area and it was Gary Warwick who stepped up to the take it. The Ards man went directly for goal and his shot was dipping under the bar and was destined for the top left hand corner but somehow Morris managed to tip the ball over. About five minutes before the interval Willie Garrett had a speculative effort from all of forty yards which trickled harmlessly wide and that turned out to be the last notable act of the first half. Ards emerged for the second half unchanged but the Glens withdrew Garrett due to a thigh injury and replaced him with Calum Birney.
Eddie Patterson’s men began the second half in much the same vein as they did the first by looking the more dangerous side without really causing Ards too many problems. Steven Gordon headed just over from close range in the 47th minute and just 5 minutes later Stephen McAlorum’s twenty-five yard effort sailed harmlessly wide but the Cock ‘n Hens didn’t have to wait long before they broke the deadlock. In the 59th minute Niall Henderson sent a dangerous free kick into the Ards penalty area. It broke to Calum Birney at the back post and his overhead kick found Danny McKee who was on hand to toe poke the ball home from close range. 1-0 to the Glens and no less than they deserved having dominated the play!
The Glens almost doubled their advantage just two minutes later when Stephen McAlorum whipped a cross in from the right hand side which was met by Danny McKee. This time the strikers first time side foot volley sailed agonizingly over the bar from about ten yards out. The East Belfast outfit cranked up the pressure and created a spate of opportunities in quick succession. In the 70th minute Niall Henderson found Steven Gordon on the edge of the area but he curled his shot well wide of Aaron Shanahan’s far post. Three minutes later Johnny Addis brought the ball out from the back and went marauding forward. The defender’s ball found Steven Gordon but again his finishing was wayward as he screwed the ball wide from just three yards.
In the 76th minute David Scullion went charging down the right flank and his cut back found Jordan Stewart in the area but his first time effort from six yards out went sailing over the bar. A minute later Ards defender Denver Gage was booked for a challenge right on the edge of the area and from the resulting free kick Steven McCullough lashed a left foot effort at goal which was flying into the top corner before being tipped over again by the impressive Shanahan. With only 8 minutes remaining and time running out for the visitors, they threw caution to the wind and went in search of an equalizer that would take the game into extra time. William Faulkner’s ambitious scissor kick from the edge of the area sailed harmlessly over the bar much to the derision of his team mates. Just a minute later Shane Dolan missed a glorious opportunity for the visitors when he blazed his header over the bar from six yards. The miss seemed to deflate Ards as the realization that it was not going to be their afternoon set in.
As Ards went in search of an equalizer their cavalier approach was leaving huge spaces at the back which Jordan Stewart was exploiting with his pace and trickery. The Glens broke high up the pitch in the 84th minute and an exquisite drag back by Stewart took two Ards defenders out of the game and he sent a through ball to David Scullion who bent his shot wide. With the game heading into stoppage time the Glens suffered a blow when Jordan Stewart pulled up with an injury and had to be replaced by young George Gray who was making his Glentoran debut. Eddie Patterson will be hoping that Stewart’s injury is not too serious and he will be available for their next game against Crusaders on 17th January.
Three minutes into injury time the impressive Steven McCullough broke down the right flank for the Glens and he slid a delightful ball into the path of substitute Fra McCaffrey who found himself one-on-one with Aaron Shanahan. The midfielder took a touch and steadied himself before dispatching a shot right down the centre of the goal to give his side a 2-0 lead and put the game beyond any doubt. It was an efficient performance and a good result from Eddie Patterson’s side who were subsequently handed a home draw against Armagh City in the sixth round of the competition in the draw after the game.
Highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.
Glentoran: Morris (capt), Holland, McCullough, Addis, Garrett, McAlorum, Henderson, Gordon, Scullion, Stewart & McKee.
Subs: Birney for Garrett (46), McCaffrey for Gordon (80) and Gray for Stewart (89).
Little Lily's Bistro 'Man of the Match' - Danny McKee.