Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran make a point but Nacho Novo injury a real worry

Glentoran 2 -2 Glenavon

By David Mason

Things are just going from bad to worse for Nacho Novo. The 37-year-old former Rangers ace, who has struggled to make an impact since his shock summer move to east Belfast and was then subject to an alleged death threat, was forced off with a groin injury during last night's 2-2 draw with Glenavon, which could keep him out for several weeks.

It took a last-gasp equaliser from substitute Stevie Gordon to spare the Glens' blushes as they were staring at their fifth league defeat of the season.

Under caretaker boss Roy Coyle, at the helm after Alan Kernaghan resigned, the home team forged ahead through Jonathan Smith only for Eoin Bradley to level before the break.

Joel Cooper then hit a goal of the season contender which looked to have won it for Glenavon, but Gordon pounced on 88 minutes.

Lurgan Blues boss Gary Hamilton moaned: "We deserved three points. I asked for a response after Saturday's defeat and I got it. But we were caught napping right at the end.

"We were denied two stonewall penalty kicks. There was a blatant stamp on Rhys Marshall in the first half... the fourth official was standing beside me.

"Then Mark Sykes was brought down inside the box. Everyone in the ground thought it was a penalty. It's difficult for a referee at The Oval to give a decision like that with so little time left. But it still doesn't make it right.

"We dominated the match and were the better team over the 90 minutes."

The Glens lost Novo after only seven minutes. He was clearly in some distress following an innocent challenge from Dave Elebert, and was replaced by Moldova international Alex Leu.

Both sides missed early chances with Chris Lavery firing wide for the Glens, while Bradley completely fluffed his lines when presented with only Dwayne Nelson, making his debut, to beat.

Leu was instrumental in the Glens forging ahead on 20 minutes. He whipped in a delicious cross, which was brilliantly smashed home by Smith.

Lavery had the ball in the net again, but was quite rightly flagged offside.

And the lively Lavery threatened again on 32 minutes following another eye-catching link-up with Leu. Goalkeeper Johnny Tuffey was relieved to see the midfielder's shot flash just inches wide of the post.

The home fans were silenced three minutes later with that Bradley strike. He gobbled up a long punt forward by Andrew Doyle and his low drive fizzed under the body of Nelson.

Glentoran again roared from the traps after the break with Aaron Harmon's speculative effort forcing Tuffey to flick the ball over the top. And from Lavery's corner kick, Smith's header just cleared the crossbar.

But Cooper then took centre stage on 51 minutes with his wonder goal. His trickery took him clear of two defenders and, spotting Nelson slightly off his line, he dinked in the most delicate of lobs that nestled in the net.

The Glens tried to come back off the ropes with Ciaran Caldwell sending Lavery clear inside the box, but once again he shamefully fired wide.

However, there was one final sting in the tail when Gordon, who had replaced Caldwell 10 minutes earlier, got in behind the Lurgan Blues defence and his low drive gave goalkeeper Tuffey no chance.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph