Glentoran Football Club were saddened to learn that during today's game a Linfield supporter passed away in the Lower Tier of the North Stand. All at Glentoran FC extend their deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the gentleman.
Curtis Allen’s 94th minute overhead kick earned Glentoran a deserved point in the first ‘Big Two’ derby of the season at the National Stadium. The Glens made the trip to South Belfast looking to rebound from last week's disappointing defeat against Ballinamallard and will feel relatively pleased to come away with a point. Eddie Patterson made four changes to the side which lost at home to the Mallards with Morris, Holland, Magee and McCaffrey all coming back into the side.
It was the Glens who started the brighter in a first half of few real chances, Marcus Kane fired over from range within a minute whilst Curtis Allen and David Scullion combined neatly shortly afterwards but Allen’s low ball evaded everyone in the Linfield penalty area.
The first real chance of the game fell to Linfield after a quarter of an hour, Aaron Burns long throw caused problems in the Glentoran defence, the ball rebounded off a couple of defenders and fell for Stephen Lowry but he could only poke the ball harmlessly wide. Linfield began to assert themselves after this and enjoyed a good spell of possession but they were restricted to speculative efforts, Guy Bates and Andy Waterworth both curled shots well over from 25 yards. In between those efforts Curtis Allen managed to work space for a cross which narrowly evaded a sliding Steven Gordon at the back post.
It was Allen again who produced the only shot on target of the first half, but his 33rd minute effort was easily gathered by Ross Glendinning in the home goal. The remainder of the first half was rather cagey with both sides having plenty of the ball in the final third without really creating anything. Linfield almost broke through right on half time when Bates clipped the ball over the defence for Waterworth to latch on to but Kane raced back and tackled the striker to ensure the teams went in level at the break. HT 0-0
Immediately after the break the Glens had the ball in the net but referee Andrew Davey ruled it out. David Scullion floated a cross for Fra McCaffrey to head down for Curtis Allen to drill past Glendinning but the linesman adjudged McCaffrey to have been offside. Glentoran seemed to be growing into the game and were probing the Linfield defence but it was the Blues who broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute as two of their summer signings combined. Guy Bates played the ball through the Glentoran defence for ex-Ballinamallard midfielder David Kee who beat the offside trap and calmly slid the ball past the onrushing Morris.
The home support thought Linfield had doubled their lead 5 minutes later when substitute Ivan Sproule crossed for Waterworth to head in, just seconds after the ex-international winger had replaced Kirk Miller, however the flag was up for offside and the Blues celebrations were cut short. Glentoran started to throw more men forward in search of the equaliser but failed to test Glendinning. The young keeper should have been tested with 15 minutes remaining but Scullion and Gordon seemed to get in each other’s way when attacking a cross from Allen. Jonny Smith curled a free kick over shortly after but the game looked to be meandering towards its conclusion, with Linfield creating some late half chances, Bates and Sproule had efforts blocked and Morris saved from Burns.
With 88 minutes on the clock Allen dragged a shot wide after a clever Scullion flick had sent him through; the Glens frontman was perhaps put off by pressure from Mark Stafford who did just enough to spoil the chance. In added time the Glens late pressure was rewarded. Stafford brought Allen down on the edge of the box and the resulting free kick was cleared for a throw in from which Jay Magee forced a corner. With Glens keeper Morris joining the attack Smith found Kane with the corner and his header was acrobatically volleyed in by Curtis Allen for a dramatic equaliser in the fourth minute of added time.
A draw was probably a fair result in a game where neither keeper was regularly tested but Allen’s late goal should provide the Glens with some much needed momentum as they face Carrick Rangers twice in 4 days. The first of these meetings is a League Cup game at The Oval on Wednesday night. Kick Off is at 7.45pm.
Glentoran – Elliott Morris, Barry Holland, Jay Magee, Willie Garrett, Marcus Kane, Jonny Addis, Stephen McAlorum, Steven Gordon (sub Conor McMenamin 76 min), Fra McCaffrey (sub Jonny Smith 63 mins), David Scullion, Curtis Allen.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell