A moment of brilliance from Glentoran's in-demand starlet Jordan Stewart gave Glentoran a much deserved point at Solitude against champions Cliftonville. Stewart's 90th minute goal sent the away fans into raptures and ensuring Glentoran remain just three points behind Cliftonville and remain in 5th place in the Danske Bank Premiership.
On a cold day in North Belfast the game got off to a frantic start with traditional tempers in the fixture resurfacing in the opening exchanges. George McMullan was booked for a poor challenge on Jordan Stewart whilst soon after Barry Holland entered the book for a cynical foul as Cliftonville counter attacked. The opening 15 minutes were tight and lacked quality as neither side were able to produce a killer pass. Martin Donnelly danced in-field before shooting low into Elliott Morris' hands in the first shot on target.
Cliftonville took the lead on the 18th minute when McMullan's ball through the defence sent Joe Gormley clear. Morris might be disappointed to sell himself by running off his line but take nothing away from the prolific striker who bagged his 32nd goal of the season with a finely executed lob.
Glentoran struggled to recover from the opener but Cliftonville offered very little too in the first half. Glentoran's one and only chance fell to Danny McKee after Jordan Stewart headed a ball across the six yard to the young forward. McKee volleyed from close range but George McMullan cleared off the line for the home side.
The game changed completely in the second half as Glentoran upped the intensity and played some fantastic football. Scullion became a real threat down the left hand side whilst numbers from midfield were starting to play far higher in Cliftonville's half. Danny McKee had the first chance of the half heading a Barry Holland cross on target only for Peter Cherrie to tip over. It was a sign for more things to come as Glentoran pushed the champions deeper and deeper. An excellent team move concluded with Stephen Gordon through with an opportunity but his shot was too close to Cherrie who saved with his feet.
Cliftonville were a threat on the counter attack as Gormley and Donnelly both had chances. Gormley fired straight at Morris whilst Donnelly fired high and wide when in a lot of space.
Curtis Allen and Fra McCaffery were introduced from the bench to give Glentoran extra fire power. Allen had Glentoran's best chance as he ran clear but his left foot shot edged agonizingly wide of the far post. The pressure continued and a goalmouth scramble following a Johnny Addis long throw presented Danny McKee a shot from the penalty spot which he struck viciously but Cherrie was equal to the effort with a fine reaction save.
But the drama wasn't over as Glentoran fired home the late equaliser from a moment of brilliance from Stewart. Kym Nelson headed the ball forward to the edge of the penalty area but the young forward still had a lot of work to do. He skilfully chipped the ball over the defenders head sending him through on goal where his composure was equally class finishing beautifully into the bottom corner. The scenes that followed were wild celebrations from the away end who knew they deserved something from the game.
Cliftonville enjoyed some late pressure to snatch the winner but Glentoran hung on for an important point.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.
Glentoran: Morris (capt), Holland, Kane, Addis, Birney, McAlorum, Henderson, Gordon, Scullion, Stewart, McKee
Subs: Allen for Gordon, McCaffery for Scullion & Nelson for Henderson
Highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE