Two goals from Curtis Allen gave Glentoran their first Premiership victory of the season in a close encounter at the Oval this afternoon. Prior to kick off the fans bade farewell to last season’s Player of the Year Jordan Stewart as he heads to a career in full time football. The Swindon bound midfielder’s place was taken by Fra McCaffrey, Eddie Patterson otherwise naming an unchanged side from last week’s draw at Carrick.
In an error riddled first half the Glens should have been in front after just four minutes. Stephen McAlorum hit a high free kick into the Warrenpoint box and, as a gaggle of players rose to meet it, former Glentoran midfielder Mark Clarke handled giving referee Ian McNabb no option but to point to the penalty spot with few complaints from the visitors. McCaffrey stepped up to take the kick but his shot lacked power and was at a nice height for Point ‘keeper Johnny Parr to make a good save. Conor McMenamin should really have buried the rebound but was unable to do so despite having two bites at the cherry. Warrenpoint were proving to be more than a match for the Glens despite their lowly position in the table with mistakes early on in the game from Calum Birney and Aaron Hogg almost presenting them with the opening goal. On 20 minutes they came closer still as Daniel Hughes was allowed to run through the middle unchallenged and his low shot from just outside the box had Hogg beaten but came off the outside of the post. However halfway through the first period it was the Glens who went into the lead. McCaffrey flicked the ball through to McAlorum who got the better of Padraig Smith in the Warrenpoint area and his low cross along the six yard line gave Curtis Allen the easiest of tasks in firing the ball into the roof of the net.
Despite this setback the visitors’ heads did not go down and they continued to create chances, Stephen Hughes firing over from six yards following a corner and brother Daniel bringing a good save from Hogg after getting the better of Birney. At the other end McCaffrey chased down a long ball and the fans held their breath as his high lob over the advancing Parr dropped towards the goal but found the side netting. Further Warrenpoint pressure saw Smith bring another good save out of Hogg and former Glens midfielder John McGuigan’s dipping volley just cleared the bar. Just as it looked as though the Glens would go into the break a goal up the border club grabbed a deserved equaliser right on the half time whistle. Making up for his earlier miss Stephen Hughes was allowed to dribble unchallenged along the 18 yard line and fire in a shot which Hogg got a hand to but was unable to prevent finding the back of the net.
Eleven minutes after the break the Glens almost went into the lead as Curtis Allen’s superb curling free kick from just outside the box brought an even better save from Parr. Both teams continued to press forward and Smith should have at least tested Hogg after a lengthy spell of Warrenpoint pressure but he couldn’t find the target, while a great exchange of passes between McMenamin and Kym Nelson along the left ended with the latter’s shot coming back off a post. McMenamin was involved again on the left soon afterwards, beating a couple of defenders before his shot from a tight angle was saved when a cross may have been the better option.
Chances continued at both ends with McGuigan firing just wide and Birney doing the same with a header from a David Scullion corner, but on 72 minutes it was the Glens who grabbed the deciding goal. Jonny Addis sent in a trademark long throw from the left, Birney flicked it on and Allen stole in front of a defender to fire a left foot volley into the roof of the net from six yards. The visitors appeared unfazed by this and went in search of an equaliser, playing some nice football in the process, but some dogged defending from the Glens meant chances were few and far between for the rest of the game, nevertheless there was more than a little relief amongst the home fans when referee McNabb sounded the final whistle.
Not a vintage performance by any means but the first win is on the board and it could prove to be an important psychological boost as we make the difficult trip to Mourneview Park to take on Glenavon next Friday night.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.
Aaron Hogg, Barry Holland, Calum Birney, Jonny Addis, Marcus Kane (sub Steven McCullough 69 mins), David Scullion, Stephen McAlorum, Kym Nelson, Fra McCaffrey (sub Steven Gordon 67 mins), Curtis Allen, Conor McMenamin