Lacklustre Glentoran failed in their bid to draw level with Carling Premiership leaders Linfield last night after they were held to a goalless draw by Dungannon Swifts at the Oval.
The shot-shy champions created very few clear cut chances and the visitors will probably feel aggrieved not to have come away with the win as it was they who came closest to scoring.
Alan McDonald clearly has a problem with the attacking side of his team and if they are to sustain their challenge then either a quick return to form is needed by all the frontmen— or some fresh blood.
The east-Belfast men are two points off the Blues, but David Jeffery’s men have a game in hand.
The Glens were nervy at the outset and gave away too many fouls in dangerous positions.
Neil McCafferty came close for the visitors after five minutes when his well struck free-kick from 20 yards whistled past the post then two minutes later after another foul wide on the right, Marc McCann’s set-piece was just about cleared by Sean Ward with Andrew Ferguson lurking.
Those early scares seemed to awaken the champions — for the time being — and they could have been in front themselves on nine minutes, but for some dithering by Gary Hamilton.
In a quick breakaway Richard Clarke fed Keith Gillespie, whose first touch was sublime and he played the ball right to Hamilton and carried on his run into the box, but Hamilton waited too long and with Gillespie now marked the ball arrived at Shane McCabe whose was quickly charged down.
It was from a another set-piece that Dungannon’s next chance arrived when McCafferty’s corner was met well by Timmy Adamson, but his header flew just over.
On 31 minutes Craig McClean’s header flashed wide from Ryan McIlmoyle’s corner as the Glens struggled to counter a team that is from the biggest in the league.
At the other end, the home side had their first real chance a minute later when Ward’s cross found Hamilton, but his header was palmed away by Alvin Rouse. Clarke followed up, but couldn’t find a way past the keeper either and the ball went out for a corner which brought about no danger.
After the break McClean let fly with a superb dipping volley from the edge of the box on the left which just didn’t dip enough to trouble Elliott Morris, but on 54 minutes the Glens should have taken the lead.
Hamilton’s low cross found an unmarked Daryl Fordyce, but he scuffed his shot and it bobbled into the arms of Rouse.
Time was ticking on for the Glens and the tension was beginning to rise in the stands too as home fans shuffled in their seats, with the prospect of dropping more points growing ever nearer.
And it almost got worse as on 65 minutes Adamson missed a sitter. Paul Leeman and Ward left McClean’s cross for each other and Adamson rose unmarked and somehow headed wide.
Straight away McDonald called down from his spot in the Directors’ Box for a change and on came Andy Waterworth and Michael Halliday for the ineffective Hamilton and Kyle Neill.
On 77 minutes Johnny Black came close when his terrific free-kick was touched onto the woodwork by Rouse and showing they were still dangerous, Swifts hit the post themselves as Ferguson’s header was just inches away from opening the scoring.
Despite the fourth official indicating there were to be four added minutes, not even that could spark the Glens into life and they had to settle for a point, one that the Swifts would have taken before hand, but maybe, now, think it should have been more.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Nixon, Leeman, Ward, Black, Gillespie, McCabe, Clarke (Fitzgerald 72), Neill (Waterworth 65), Hamilton (Halliday 65), Fordyce. Subs: James Taylor, Johnny Taylor.
DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Rouse, Fitzpatrick, Ferguson, Montgomery, McClean, McCann, McCafferty, Coney (Ward 49), McIlmoyle (Mooney 72), Emerson (Hamilton 61), Adamson. Subs: Forker, Murphy.
Referee: Colin Burns (Belfast).