Glentoran continued their push for a European place with a comprehensive 4-0 win over a lacklustre Ballinamallard United side. A brace from Curtis Allen along with strikes from Steven Gordon and Fra McCaffrey ensured that Eddie Patterson’s side remained in fifth place and four points adrift of European qualification.
It was the fourth meeting between the two sides this season and the Glens were looking to get back to winning ways after drawing their previous fixture against Portadown. It was the East Belfast outfit who came out of the traps the quickest and they signalled their intent by forcing a corner as early as the first minute. The Glentoran faithful did not have to wait long on the first goal as Curtis Allen opened the scoring in the fourth minute. The striker headed a looping effort over Fergal Murphy after the Ballinamallard keeper had parried Steven Gordon’s original effort. The Glens No.9 continued his impressive record against the Co. Fermanagh side by scoring for the fifth consecutive game.
Eddie Patterson’s men cranked up the pressure with successive corners causing mayhem in the Ballinamallard area. Glentoran defender Kym Nelson almost doubled the Glens advantage with a header at the back post which went agonizingly wide. A succession of stoppages for injuries and treatment meant that the Glens lost their momentum and the visitors were able to put their foot on the ball and settle things down somewhat. The Mallards carved out their first opportunity of the half in the 25th minute when Johnny Courtney fed a through ball to John Currie whose shot across the face of goal was smothered by Elliott Morris at the second attempt.
But just as it looked as though Ballinamallard were getting a foothold in the game the Glens reasserted their authority with a well worked second goal through Steven Gordon in the 30th minute. Marcus Kane, who was making his 100th appearance for the Glens, got to the byline and cut the ball back to the edge of the six yard box where Steven Gordon was on hand to stab the ball home with his left foot. The Glens almost made it two goals in a minute when Curtis Allen raced through and stung the palms of Fergal Murphy but the ball rebounded to safety and was launched clear by the visiting skipper Mark Stafford. It turned out to be the last significant chance of the first half as Eddie Patterson’s players saw out the remainder of the forty five by comfortably stroking around the ball whilst patiently probing for an opening.
Both sides made a change at half time with Ryan Campbell replacing Johnny Courtney for the visitors whilst Stephen McAlorum made way for Steven McCullough for the home side. Even though the personnel had changed, the dynamic of the first half remained very much the same as the second period got under way with the Glens in total control. The Cock n’ Hens dominated possession and dictated the tempo of the play from the restart and were almost rewarded with a third goal in the 48th minute. Jordan Stewart was on the receiving end of some feisty challenges but he managed to deliver a cross to the edge of the six yard box where Fra McCaffrey was waiting to pounce. The midfielder’s first time volley was blocked by Stuart Hutchinson and his second attempt was cleared off the line by Mark Stafford. Eddie Patterson’s side were really finding their rhythm as McCaffrey, Stewart and Allen were linking to great effect. The East Belfast side put the game beyond all doubt in the 57th minute when Curtis Allen latched onto Jordon Stewart’s pass and the striker lobbed the oncoming keeper from all of twenty yards. It was the forward’s second of the game and he was deprived of a remarkable hat trick just a minute later when his ‘Rabona’ effort was ruled out for offside. The Glens continued to demonstrate their supremacy and put together some wonderful passages of play as the visitors struggled to contend with them. Goal number four for the home side arrived in 69th minute and this time Allen turned the provider. The No9 broke free down the right and unselfishly squared the ball along the six yard line to Fra McCaffrey who was on hand to stroke the ball home and end the game as a contest.
In the 73rd minute Fergal Murphy made a brave double block right on the edge of his area first from Curtis Allen, then right at the feet of Steven Gordon. The visitors created their first and only significant chance of the half in the 75th minute when Liam Martin’s low drive was saved by Elliot Morris. The remaining fifteen minutes were perforated with substitutions from both sides which effectively killed the flow of the game and ensured the score remained at 4-0. Danny McKee and Johnny Addis replaced Steven Gordon and Willie Garrett respectively for the Glens whilst the visitors withdrew Liam Martin and gave Kane Connor a run out. In the end it was a convincing victory for the Glens in a game they dominated from the outset. In what will surely be regarded as one of their better performances this season, the East Belfast outfit will be hoping to take this form into their remaining fixtures as they seek European qualification.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.
Goals and reaction from both managers on BBC Sport NI HERE
Glentoran: Morris (capt), Gray, Kane, Birney, Garrett, McAlorum, Gordon, Nelson, McCaffrey, Stewart & Allen.
Subs: McCullough for McAlorum (46), McKee for Gordon (77) and Addis for Garrett (77). Unused: Hogg & Scullion.
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