Irish Premiership: Glentoran beat Ballymena 3-1 in thrilling win at the Oval
Danske Bank Premiership
Glentoran 3 Ballymena United 1
Skipper Marcus Kane has led by example by hitting the crucial third goal in his team’s thrilling win against Ballymena United at the Oval.
Manager Mick McDermott’s half-time team talk worked a treat as the East Belfast boys produced a stunning second half performance – much to the delighted of their adoring fans.
Even though they bossed the opening 45 minutes, the home team trooped off at the interval a goal down after Cathair Friel’s injury time spot kick just about crept over the line – after Glentoran goalkeeper Marijan Antolovic beat out his initial effort.
But the Glens were level within six minutes of the restart, courtesy of another special effort from Hrvoje Plum. And, with the supporters still in a buoyant mood, McDaid popped up with the second.
It was left to Kane to seal the deal eight minutes from time with a booming header.
Glentoran were led out by former Oval great of the 1940’s Bertie Wright, to mark the occasion of his 100th birthday. The club also made a pitch-side presentation – and the former player must have been thrilled with the team’s showing.
Following a lifeless first half, the game burst to life on 47 minutes when referee Tim Marshall controversially awarded United, who had been largely outplayed, a penalty kick when Jude Winchester had his heels clipped by Conor Pepper.
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Friel took on the responsibility, but his spot kick was superbly saved by Marijan Antolovic. The alert striker pounced on the rebound and, even though his shot lacked conviction, it still managed to trickle over the line – confirmed by the raised flag of assistant referee Adam Jeffrey.
It was hardly surprising that referee Marshall ran the gauntlet of abuse on the way off for a half-time cuppa.
After soaking up persistent first half pressure, David Jeffrey’s team should really been in front on 43 minutes when they stitched the best move of the half.
In devastating break on the right, Winchster sent Josh Kelly clear. He drilled in a low cross that was met by Friel, but Antolovic produced an outstanding handed save at the near post.
Earlier, it was the Glens that called all the shots. Paul O’Neill had the first sniff of goal, but unlike Patrick McClean, who scored a stunner against Larne last week, he completely fluffed an attempted scissors kick after being picked out by Conor Pepper’s accurate pass.
The home fans had loud appeals for a penalty kick on 19 minutes when the jet-heeled Elvio Van Overbeek twisted and turned inside the before seemingly being impeded by Andrew Burns. Referee Marshall wasn’t interested on that occasion.
In another lightning raid, Overbeek stung the hands of goalkeeper Ross Glendinning before O’Neill let fly from distance which failed to trouble the United shot stopper.
The visitors had to wait until 33 minutes for their first sniff at the other end. Kelly’s cross was met by Leroy Millar, but his header was easily dealt with by Antolovic.
Glentoran didn’t heed the waring when Antolovic somehow kept out that Friel effort on 43 minutes and they found themselves trooping off at half-time in a goal in arrears.
Glentoran were level just six minutes after the interval with a trademark Plum goal.
It was McDaid whose trickery on the left caught the United defence cold and, when he picked out the big Croatian, his thundering low drive ballooned the net before Glendinning could even move.
And, the big home crowed were celebrating again on 58 minutes when substitute David Nasseri whipped in a cross from the left which came off the legs of United skipper Jim Ervin and spun on to the head of McDaid who made no mistake.
Van Overbeek should have out the game to bed seconds later, capitalizing on an error by Ervin, but after his initial shot was saved by Glendinning, the little Dutch start scoped the rebound over the top.
The Glens finished the job on 82 minutes. Plum’s corner kick was me by the head of Kane his header ripped into the roof of the net.
Man of the match: Hrvoje Plum
GLENTORAN: Antolovic, Kane, Peers, Gallagher, McDaid, McClean, Pepper, Crowe (Nasseri 51), O’Neill (Stewart 69), Plum, Overbeek.
Unused subs: Morris, Frazer, Herron, Murray, Gordon.
BALLYMENA UNITED: Glendinning, Addis, Harpur, Friel, McCullough, Burns (Mayse 79), McGrory, Winchester (McGinty 65), Ervin, Millar, Kelly.
Unused subs: Williamson, Kane, Carville, Balmer, Lavery.
REFEREE: Tim Marshall.
Match rating 8/10.
Belfast Telegraph Digital