Glentoran 1 Portadown 0
A stunning strike from substitute Matty Burrows deep into injury time brought to an end Glentoran's three game winless run last night as Portadown were the victims of a smash and grab at the Oval.
A scoreless draw looked to be on the cards with neither side deserving of taking all three points, until the 92nd minute when the goal hungry striker popped up with a majestic back-heeled volley 12 yards from goal to light up a dire match.
The victory keeps Glentoran top of the table and should be seen as a confidence booster bearing in mind the lateness of the winner, but though they can point to injuries to key players there is still a lot of work to be done by Scott Young as his side were generally poor throughout the game and were lucky to come away with their win.
It was the visitors who made the most promising start on a crisp evening in east Belfast, almost going in front with just over a minute on the clock when Keith O'Hara rocketed a free kick against the post from 22 yards out.
The game died after that bright opening — the ball was in the air too often, passing was far from fluent.
In times like that you need a real spark and on 23 minutes Glentoran's Richard Clarke almost did just that when his rocket of a shot cannoned off the crossbar from 25 yards out.
That was as good as it got though, with poor tackling being added to the other negative aspects of a disappointing first period.
Some of the tackles were so bad, from Chris Ramsey in particular, that Ronnie McFall substituted the right back after just 36 minutes for fear of seeing him sent off following two bad challenges on Neal Gawley — the first of which he was cautioned for.
Paul Leeman also found himself in Alan Black's book for coming in late on Shane McCabe.
Then just before the break a frantic one minute spell almost saw the Glens break the deadlock.
David Howland's drive was parried by David Miskelly and Leeman followed up, but his touch allowed the keeper to recover and he conceded a corner. From there Daryl Fordyce shot through a crowded goalmouth only to see his effort blocked on the line.
It was more of the same in the second half with neither team gaining the upper hand, though Glentoran had the lion's share of possession without really causing any panic, save from a Colin Nixon glancing header from Jason Hill's corner which went wide of goal.
The Glens threw on Matty Burrows for Andy Waterworth and Portadown replaced Jordan Baker with Richard Leckey as both sides tried to shake up their forward lines as the game drew to a close but it was Burrows who stole the points and the headlines when he connected sublimely to a Johnny Black cross with almost the last kick of the game.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Johnny Taylor (Steele 84), Nixon, Ward, Hill (Black 75), Leeman, Clarke, Howland, Waterworth (Burrows 78), Fordyce, Gawley. Subs: Gardiner, Hall.
PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Ramsey (Macklin 36), O'Hara, Kelly, Redman, Mouncey, McCabe (Clarke 79), McCafferty, Braniff, Baker (Lecky 75). Subs: Armstrong, Haire.
Referee: Alan Black (Antrim).