Glentoran remain unbeaten in the Danske Bank Premiership after a 1-all draw with Ballymena United at the Showgrounds on Friday night but the really should have been heading back to East Belfast with 3 points instead of 1.
An early free kick, conceded by Richard Clarke, resulted in Ross Black firing a dangerous ball across the penalty area but it eluded everyone and ran safely out of play. On 9 minutes Glentoran should have had the opportunity to go in front from the penalty spot when Andy Waterworth was felled in the area but the referee and his assistant ignored the appeals! Jimmy Callacher headed over from a Clarke corner on 11 minutes and then a quick throw in from Sean Ward found Jim O’Hanlon in the area but he shot just wide of the far post. Just after the quarter hour mark a poor challenge by Jamie Davidson on Sean Ward resulted in a yellow card for the young striker. Clarke took the free kick and his ball into the area was met by the head of Jay Magee but his effort was wide of the goal. On 31 minutes came the best chance of the game. Superb inter-play by Ward and O’Hanlon down the right saw the young winger put Ward clear. His excellent cross to the back post found Marcus Kane but as the visiting fans rose to celebrate a goal, Dwayne Nelson somehow managed to block the close range effort. Ballymena United then created a couple of opportunities. The first, on 32 minutes was blocked by Magee and Elliott Morris then denied Davidson (34) when he shot from the edge of the area. James McCabe had the ball in the net for the home side on 38 minutes but the linesman’s flag had already been raised. A minute before the interval the Glens were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal. Jimmy Callacher stepped up to take it and was really unlucky to see his shot crash back off the bar with Nelson beaten.
Glentoran took the lead on 48 minutes and what a goal it was! Sean Ward played the ball into the area, Andy Waterworth knocked it down and from the edge of the box David Howland struck an unstoppable left foot volley past the helpless Nelson. Two minutes later United looked to have bundled in an equaliser but twice the Glentoran defenders scrambled the ball off the line. Jay Magee got in the way of a Ballymena United free kick on 52 minutes whilst at the other end a cross from Marcus Kane was headed goalwards by the excellent O’Hanlon, forcing a decent save out of Nelson. Another Clarke corner (65) found Magee in the area but he failed to get a proper connection on the ball and the keeper was able to gather comfortably. Callacher did well to block an effort from Cushley (67) and then Glentoran were fortunate when Alan Davidson took advantage of some hesitancy in the Glens defence (71) before firing wide of the goal. Substitute, Martin Murray went close with a 25 yard drive (83) a minute after coming off the bench and then on 87 minutes Richard Clarke went close to doubling the visitor’s lead when his shot hit the crossbar. In the 90th minute a fantastic Glentoran break saw O’Hanlon feed Clarke who played in Andy Waterworth. Waterworth took a touch before shooting and that split second allowed Nelson to make the save. It turned out to be a costly miss with Cushley’s ball into the Glens’ area on 93 minutes, being turned in by Gary Thompson.
Match highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE
Glentoran: Morris, Ward (capt), Hill, Magee, Callacher, McGuigan, R. Clarke, Howland, O’Hanlon, Kane & Waterworth.
Subs: M. Clarke for McGuigan (63), McAlorum for Howland (73) and M. Murray for Kane (82).