Vinny Arkins sets out stall and Portadown dig in to frustrate shot-shy Glens
Glentoran 0 Portadown 0
Vinny Arkins made no apology for Portadown's rearguard action at The Oval as the basement side extended their unbeaten sequence to three with this scoreless stalemate.
The Ports interim manager picked a side to dig out a result and ultimately earned their first draw of the season with some comfort as Glentoran's shot-shy side failed to penetrate the visitors' defence.
"The way we set up, they had a lot of possession but they couldn't break us down. Neither keeper had much to do. They knocked long balls into the box and we have big centre halves there and didn't cause us any problems," said Arkins, the former Ports player who was more used to scoring goals than keeping them out.
"It was a battling performance, we didn't want to lose. We're at a stage when every point counts."
Following Carrick Rangers' victory on Friday, the Ports actually lost ground on the team immediately above them - they are now 10 points adrift - but Arkins is backing his young side to make up the lost ground, while the experienced Sean Mackle came off the bench for the first time since August to confirm his availability for Saturday's visit of champions Crusaders.
For Glens boss Gary Haveron it was a frustrating afternoon as they dominated much of the match but he admitted the quality was missing in the final third.
"We weren't forceful enough and didn't ask enough questions. We put countless balls into their box but the keeper cherry-picked most of them. The end product wasn't there so that was disappointing."
Haveron sent on Jonathan Smith and Nacho Novo in an effort to get the winning goal but the Spaniard's contribution lasted exactly four minutes!
"He has had a hamstring problem but he went to strike a shot from distance and, bang, he felt something and you just saw he needed to come off. I don't know how bad it is, we will have to wait and see. It's very unfortunate," said Haveron.
The way Novo sprinted off the field told a rather different story and his frustration when he returned to the bench was there for all to see. It was certainly one of the more bizarre cameos of the season.
Glentoran: Morris; Birney, Magee, Addis, Redman; Harmon, Gordon (Smith 62 mins), Foley, Lavery (Novo 85 mins, K Nelson 89 mins), Caldwell, Allen. Unused subs: D Nelson, Hamill
Portadown: McGaughey, Byrne, O'Hara, Oman, Carson, Shannon (Mackle, 79 mins), Henderson Garrett, Parker, Hughes, Haire (Kirwan, 86 mins). Unused subs: Larkin, Breen, Simpson.
Referee: Evan Boyce
Man of the match: Robert Garrett
Match rating: 5/10