Glentoran learn home truths as unbeaten run is ended by Portadown
GLENTORAN'S eight-match unbeaten run is over.
The run, which took Eddie Patterson's men to third in the Danske Bank Premiership table before the weekend's matches, started after a defeat to Portadown in late September and the same opponents brought it to an end last night.
Second-half goals from Gary Twigg and Darren Murray – who followed-up on his own missed penalty – gave the Ports the victory and although it wasn't a match that had the Sky Sports viewers on the edge of their seats, Ports boss Ronnie McFall won't be complaining as his team are now unbeaten in three games since star player Kevin Braniff was placed on the transfer list.
"We never looked to play enough in the first-half and we were content just to go long," said McFall, whose team is now just seven points behind leaders Crusaders.
"We said at half time let's get it out and start passing the ball and probably the first time we put four or five passes together we scored. It was a superb finish from Twigg."
Glens boss Patterson said: "Second-half we just didn't come out, we didn't perform. It was totally alien to the way we want to play football."
It could have all been so different if the Glens had taken their chances in a first-half which they dominated as the early pressure all came from the men in green.
Their quick movement of the ball gradually opened up some gaps in the Portadown defence and David Scullion was first to test David Miskelly on 14 minutes when his effort from just outside the box brought a fine save from the Ports goalkeeper.
Miskelly was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers and on 24 minutes he punched a cross straight to Richard Clarke 25 yards out and his audacious chip landed just on the wrong side of the crossbar.
Portadown attacked immediately from the resulting goal kick and Glens goalkeeper Elliott Morris plucked Murray's cross from the right wing out of the air just before it reached Twigg's head.
The Glens passing game was creating opportunities and they switched the ball from left wing to right on the half hour mark before Richard Clarke's shot from 25 yards flew over the bar.
Portadown attacks were rare and even when they did get forward, like Josh Barton did eight minutes before half-time, they weren't causing any danger as his run down the left wing ended with a weak shot.
The Glens had a great chance to open the scoring a minute later. Scullion came in from the right win and sent the ball across the six yard box. Any kind of decent touch from Mark Miskimmin would have taken it into the net, but he just about got a toe to the ball and it wasn't enough to send it goalwards.
Portadown replaced McMahon with Mackle for the second-half and Mackle was involved in the move which led to the first goal on 52 minutes. Tim Mouncey started things in midfield before Mackle sent the ball out to Chris Casement. He send a wicked cross into the box where Twigg stole in front of his marker to knock in his 16th goal of the season.
Casement had a free-kick from the right wing that looped up into the air as Mark Clarke attempted to head clear. Jimmy Callacher hooked it off the line and he was relieved to see the ball clip a post on the way.
Twigg then got onto the end of a Casement corner midway through the second-half, but Murray got in the way of his effort to stop it.
The Glens were a shadow of the team that had been so neat on the ball in the first-half, but they did threaten to draw level, with Scullion again the most likely to do the damage. He collected a cross from Marcus Kane on 74 minutes and sent his shot just over the bar.
Any threat of an equaliser was wiped out six minutes from time when Portadown scored their second. Mouncey got his head to Casement's left-wing corner and as Callacher put his hands up the ball hit his arms. Referee Arnold Hunter had no hesitation in awarding the penalty.
Murray stepped up and although Morris guessed right and made the save to his right hand side, Murray snapped up the rebound to clinch the points.
GLENTORAN: Morris, O'Neill (Bradley 46 mins), Birney, Magee, Hill, M Clarke (McAlorum 75 mins), Callacher, Kane, R Clarke, Scullion, Miskimmin (O'Hanlon 46 mins). Subs: Henderson, Addis.
PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Casement, Ramsey, Breen, O'Connor, McMahon (Mackle 46 mins), Mouncey, McStay, Barton, Murray, Twigg. Subs: Brennan, O'Hara, Lyttle, Rooney.
Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)