Robbie McDaid fired Glentoran into the lead late in the game (©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton)
Saturday, 28 December 2019
All the action at The Oval was seemingly reserved for the closing moments as Glentoran eventually came out on top against Ballymena United.
The Sky Blues were forced to play without a recognised keeper after injury and suspension ruled out both Ross Glendinning and Jordan Williamson respectively with midfielder Declan Carville taking his place between the posts following on from his cameo role against Coleraine on Boxing Day.
The first half was a relatively quiet affair and whilst both sides had their chances there was nothing of note to trouble either keeper.
For Glentoran Darren Murray had perhaps the best opportunity only to skew the ball wide of the post while, at the other end, Leroy Millar forced Marijan Antolovic into a near post stop.
It was similarly quiet during the opening period of the second half but, as the game progressed, the Glens began to up the ante. Robbie McDaid had a big chance on 69 minutes only to fire over while, with nine minutes to go, Elvio van Overbeek volleyed onto the roof of the net.
Ballymena had a chance of their own soon after when Adam Lecky fired just wide of the right post but it looked like the game would fade out into a scoreless draw.
That all changed with five minutes to go when a poor goalkick from Carville rebounded back off a defender with McDaid pouncing to steer it past the makeshift keeper into the bottom right corner.
Then, in stoppage time, Lecky was shown a straight red card following a challenge on Chris Gallagher and, in the melee that followed, Glentoran's Paul O'Neill was also dismissed by referee Raymond Crangle.
There was still time after all that for Navid Nasseri to knock home a second for Glentoran, running the full length of the pitch to slot the ball into the unguarded net after United had pushed everyone - including Carville - forward in search of the equaliser.
Glentoran: Antolovic, Kane, Birney, Gallagher, Herron, Murray, McDaid, McClean, Pepper, Crowe, O'Neill subs Morris, Garrett, Frazer, Stewart, Nasseri, Plum, van Overbeek
Ballymena United: Carville, Friel, McCullough, Burns, McGrory, Ervin, Lecky, Millar, Reece Glendinning, Kelly, Lavery subs T. Kane, Addis, Whiteside, Mayse, McGinty, Knowles, K. Kane
Referee: Raymond Crangle
|Chris Gallagher||90 +1|
|Patrick McClean||90 +2|
|Paul O'Neill||90 +2|
|Adam Lecky||90 +1|
|Cameron Stewart||58 74|
|Navid Nasseri||65||58||90 +8|
|Elvio van Overbeek||74|