Glentoran got back to winning ways in an incident packed first visit to Milltown this afternoon. The drama began even before kick off as goalkeeper Elliott Morris, originally named on the team sheet, had to be replaced by Aaron Hogg as the Glens captain injured his back in the warm up.
The visitors took the lead in their first attack with just three minutes on the clock. David Scullion and Marcus Kane were involved in the build up as Curtis Allen’s close range strike was parried by Warrenpoint ‘keeper Martin Marron, but the Glentoran number nine followed up to bury the rebound. But just a few minutes later the home side were back on level terms as Jonny Addis’s attempted back pass fell well short of Hogg and Daniel Hughes nipped in to round the ‘keeper and slot home. Allen should perhaps have restored the lead soon afterwards as he charged down Dermot McVeigh’s attempted clearance and ran clear but was unable to get his shot away as McVeigh recovered to put him under pressure. However on sixteen minutes the Glens were in front once again with a simple goal, Niall Henderson’s corner being met with a stooping header from Marcus Kane which found the back of the net. Henderson almost provided another assist when his superb cross field ball found Jordan Stewart and the winger’s first time volley brought a good save from Marron. However it was Warrenpoint who were next on the score sheet, a deep cross from the right being met with well struck left foot volley from Mark Hughes, giving Hogg no chance.
Just after the half hour mark the Glens took the lead for the third time. Steven McCullough found captain for the day Stephen McAlorum on the edge of the box, his wicked drive seemed to deceive Marron who could only beat it out to the feet of Allen and he drove home his second of the game. The home side had adopted a robust approach thus far, with three of their players booked by the half hour mark and Stewart coming in for some particularly rough treatment, and this proved to be their downfall. On 37 minutes Henderson received a yellow card for a foul which Daniel Hughes took exception to, swinging his arm at Henderson to earn his second yellow card of the game and subsequent marching orders from referee Raymond Hetherington. Despite the one man deficit Warrenpoint could have gone into the break on level terms but Mark Hughes was denied his second of the game when his header from a Ruairi Devlin cross brought a great save from Hogg.
Kym Nelson replaced the injured Marcus Kane at half time and the big midfielder had an almost immediate impact, sending Allen away with a long pass but he was denied his hat trick after his left foot volley was well saved by Marron. A minute later Marron denied him once again, this time using his feet to good effect to keep out a glancing header from a David Scullion cross. The game then seemed to die as the Glens started to look complacent against the ten men, a dangerous strategy with just a one goal lead, and the visitors’ passing became increasingly sloppy.
However with 66 minutes gone, and the home side perhaps seeing some glimmers of hope, Warrenpoint’s Ciaran Gargan gave his team mates a virtually impossible task as his crazy head butt on Henderson resulted in a straight red card to add to his first half yellow and left his side with a two man deficit. Needless to say the Glens started to enjoy the bulk of the possession but squandered a number of chances, notably both Allen and Scullion from a low Stewart cross. Stewart was posing the home defence all sorts of problems and on 72 minutes some typical trickery on the right saw him brought down by Stephen Moan for what looked like a penalty. However Mr Hetherington and his assistant disagreed and Stewart rather foolishly swung out at Moan in the aftermath, the little winger perhaps lucky to only receive a yellow card for his indiscretion.
With ten minutes left the Glens finally gave themselves some breathing space. A Henderson corner was met with an overhead kick from Nelson and, while he may not have caught it quite as sweetly as he would have hoped, the ball nestled in the bottom corner. With the game now over as a contest it only remained for Allen to complete his hat trick and four minutes later he duly obliged. After Nelson’s shot from inside the box crashed off the underside of the bar the ball fell for the Glens top scorer and, having scored his first two with right and left foot respectively, this time he used his head to loop the ball over the ‘keeper to complete a classic treble.
So a more than satisfactory afternoon for Eddie Patterson’s side which sees them climb into the top half of the table and they now look forward to the visit of Bangor in the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday, followed by another crucial Premiership game at home to Ballymena United next Saturday.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell
Highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE
Aaron Hogg, Barry Holland, Jay Magee (sub Steven Gordon 84 mins), Jonathan Addis, Steven McCullough, Jordan Stewart (sub Jim O’Hanlon 76 mins), Stephen McAlorum, Niall Henderson, Marcus Kane (sub Kym Nelson half time), David Scullion, Curtis Allen