Glentoran simply too hot for Cliftonville
Glentoran 2 Cliftonville 0: Glentoran last night proved, if they hadn't already, that they really are a forced to be reckoned with this season with a 2-0 win over fellow challengers Cliftonville at the Oval.
On the day that Gary Hamilton was offloaded to Glenavon on-loan, the man who has picked up the goalscoring mantel, Daryl Fordyce, found the net again, adding to Neal Gawley's opener.
Many pundits had tipped the east-Belfast men to struggle this campaign and though it's early days, there appears to be a massive resurgence round Mersey Street, with great football being complimented by grit and determination.
And they needed both last night.
When Glentoran had the ball they broke quickly and but for a couple of timely challenges in the final third, they could have found a sight on goal.
And on 18 minutes, after a mistake in the Reds defence the home side found that breakthrough.
The lively Peter Steele made the most of an error wide on the right and having found space, his ball across goal was perfect as Gawley came rushing in unchallenged to make it two goals in as many games.
The Glens had to weather a storm in the aftermath of going in front as Cliftonville piled the pressure on, but having come through that, it was they who looked most like finding the net again.
That arrived on the half hour with Fordyce burying, incredibly, his eighth goal of the season.
It was all about the build up in this one though as Jimmy Callacher, given his chance to shine now that Shane McCabe is out of the first-team picture, burst down the right flank, leaving a host of Reds players in his wake and pulled a sublime ball back for Fordyce to to fire home first time from 15 yards.
It was definitely a case of ‘Shane who?' as far as Glenmen were concerned, because as hard-working as McCabe has been in the Glens engine room, you would struggle to remember him making such a run to provide a goal.
Colin Nixon struck the top of the bar seven minutes into the second-half, however, , the Reds were still in it and they piled on the pressure in a bid to peg back the advantage.
Ronan Scannell shot at goal after Morris had come racing out of his area only for Sean Ward to clear the danger and then on 67 minutes the Glens keeper made up for that rush of blood to the head by clawing away a goalbound header again from Scannell.
It was frantic and exciting and one goal could have changed the match completely.
Substitute Matty Burrows should have done better but delayed his shot after a great move involving Callacher.
And at the other end, Cliftonville got into threatening positions but found the central defensive partnership of Nixon and Ward in superb form.
GLENTORAN: Morris, McGovern, Ward, Nixon, Hill (Black 62), Clarke (Gardiner 72), Callacher, Martyn, Gawley, Fordyce, Steele (Burrows 69). Subs: Leeman, Johnny Taylor.
CLIFTONVILLE: Connolly, R Scannell (Seydak 85), Hutton, B Holland, Donaghy, Caldwell, McMullan, Catney (Fleming 50), O'Connor, Garrett, C Scannell. Subs: Smyth, McVeigh, Jones.
Referee: David Malcolm (Bangor).