Rampant Glentoran pile the agony on United
Glentoran 4 Ballymena 1
Glentoran moved up to third place in the JJB Sports Premiership last night with this comfortable victory over rock-bottom Ballymena United at the Oval.
All the Glens' goals arrived in an entertaining first half with David Scullion opening the scoring before Thomas Wray fired into his own goal.
Michael Halliday floated in his sixth goal in four games and Colin Nixon added the fourth from the penalty spot as the title contenders went on the rampage.
However, with the game all but won, the Glens took their foot off the pedal after the break and United pulled one back through Kevin Kelbie.
United were looking for a bit of luck after an awful start to this campaign, and their fans will have been fearful in traveling back to east Belfast with a 6-1 drubbing in the Co Antrim Shield a couple of weeks ago still fresh in the mind.
But, with Gary Hamilton restored to the Glentoran staring-line-up, in preference to Andrew Waterworth, it proved to be another one of those nights for the Sky Blues.
After threatening to do so in the opening stages, with man of the match Dean Fitzgerald at the heart of everything, Glentoran took the lead on 15 minutes, .
Fitzgerald had already had a pop at goal on four minutes and then provided the cross for Halliday to volley over six minutes later before he set up Scullion to confidently stroke home from 12 yards.
Lady Luck hasn't been around for United too much of late, and she positively deserted them on 24 minutes as the Glens doubled their lead. Hamilton's cross into the box went as far as Thomas Wray who, with absolutely no-one around him, inexplicably threw his boot at the ball and sliced it spectacularly into his own goal.
The visitors' confidence was now shattered and four minutes later the Glens were three up as Sean Ward's clever ball over the top saw Halliday break the offside trap, take a great touch to control it before superbly lifting it over the head of the onrushing Sean O'Neill.
Number four arrived from the penalty spot three minutes before the break when Gary Haveron handled Halliday's glancing header from a Kyle Neill corner and up stepped Nixon, back on spot-kick duty, to fire into the bottom left corner.
The tempo was turned down sightly by the half time interval and in the early stages of the second half it was United who came closest to scoring when Albert Watson's header from a Liam Mullan corner rocked the post.
Kelbie sent a curling effort wide of goal from the edge of the box – possibly the first time he had touched the ball all night – as the visitors showed a bit of fight, but it was merely papering over the cracks.
The paper looked a little bit more attractive when Kelbie, doing well to stay on his feet after being tugged back by Fitzgerald, fired past a redundant Elliott Morris on 64 minutes.
Glentoran lost their talisman on the night, Fitzgerald, three minutes later as he pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury and was replaced by Grant Gardiner.
With the Glens having lost their rhythm, boss Alan McDonald replaced Scullion with Darren Boyce though the ex-Coleraine man couldn't add anymore urgency to their play and the game slowly reached its conclusion with Ballymena at least able draw some positives from slightly better second half showing.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Nixon, Ward, Simpson, Black, Scullion, McCabe, Fitzgerald, Neill, Halliday, Hamilton. Subs: Hill, Waterworth, Boyce, Gardiner, Harris.
BALLYMENA UNITED: O'Neill, Wray, Haveron, Albert Watson, Stewart, G McDonnell, Mullan, Melaugh, Ward, Kelbie, Walsh. Subs: Hogan, Teggart, Aidan Watson, Colligan, McGinley.
Referee: Iain Hall (Belfast)