An injury time equaliser denied 10-man Glentoran the win at Shamrock Park this evening in the Danske Bank Premiership.
Bobby Burns, Hrvoje Plum, Conor McMenamin and Jay Donnelly were all back in the starting line up for the Glens whilst, following Saturday's Irish Cup win, Marcus Kane, Shay McCartan and Michael O'Connor were on the bench.
The Glens attacked down the slope in the first half, towards where their large band of travelling fans were situated. In the opening 5 minutes we won a couple of corners, both of which were taken by Sean Murray. The first was headed wide by Seanan Clucas whilst Paddy McClean was unlucky to see his header blocked on the goal line. A foul on Murray out on the right was let go by referee Boyce however the Glens retained possession and Bobby Burns saw his shot go just wide from 20-yards out. In another Glentoran attack, Jay Donnelly did really well to fashion a chance for Seanan Clucas but he failed to trouble Jethren Barr. Robbie McDaid was next to try his luck on 20 minutes but again the keeper was untested.
A strong tackle by Paddy McClean on Greg Hall saw referee Boyce quickly produce a red card for the Glentoran stand-in skipper. The TV footage is inconclusive - a hard tackle in which Paddy seemed to win the ball first but perhaps Mr Boyce deemed it to be excessive force! As McClean headed for the dressing room, Hall was quickly back on his feet! Glentoran reverted to three at the back with the unlucky Bobby Burns making way for Marcus Kane. Seanan Clucas also dropped into the back three alongside Caolan Marron with Rhys Marshall moving into midfield.
The home side were unable to make anything of their numerical advantage for the last 15 minutes of the half with them having just one notable foray forward which was ended by an excellent challenge from Clucas. A minute from the break Marcus Kane was caught by a very late challenge by Jack Smith. Most people in the ground, especially those Glentoran players nearest the incident, expected a yellow card. Nothing from Mr Boyce - perhaps the fact that the player was already cautioned played a part?
Halftime: Portadown 0-0 Glentoran.
Adam Salley got on the end of a long ball forward on 52 minutes but his volley went flying well over the top. A couple of minutes later the Glens won possession in midfield and Hrvoje Plum drove forward before firing a powerful drive just wide. The Croatian midfielder went closer on 61 minutes. The Glens pressured the home defence on the left and when they managed to scramble the ball clear, Hrvoje Plum gained possession before strike the post with a 25-yard effort.
There was a chance for Jay Donnelly after good work from Robbie McDaid but Glentoran's leading scorer saw his effort blocked by Greg Hall, the ball going behind for yet another Glentoran corner. Sean Murray swung the ball into the area nad it was Jay DDonnelly again who got on the end of it but he fired well over. Another Murray corner, this time played in to the near post, was met by Marcus Kane but his header flashed right across goal. With 12 minutes remaining a shot from Portadown substitute Gledis Cakaj was deflected behind. Glentoran made hard work of clearing the set piece but Aaron McCarey's goal remained intact.
With just 4 minutes of normal time remaining the Glens went in front. Man of the Match contender, Rhys Marshall did brilliantly to intercept the ball. He fed substitute Shay McCartan who drove to the by-line before firing a low drive across goal. Conor McMenamin and Robbie McDaid were both on the edge of the 6-yard box and it was McMenamin who managed to get to the ball first and force it home. On 89 minutes we almost had a repeat performance. Another superb interception by Marshall who then found McCartan again. Shay drove into the area but without support was forced to go for goal from a tight angle. Unfortunately his effort fizzed right across goal and away to safety.
Midway through the additional time the home side levelled. Katiego Mashigo played a ball from midfield which found its way through to Greg Hall. His low cross was turned in by Oisin Conaty from close range. So the 10 men were forced to settle for a point. It was a great effort despite being a man short for 60 minutes but the levels of performance from all the players ensured that we would not be beaten. Next up is the big one against Linfield at the oval on Friday evening. We go again.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall, Burns (Kane 37), Marron, McClean (c), Murray, Plum, Clucas, McMenamin (Bigirimana 88), J. Donnelly (McCartan 80) & McDaid