Life, they say, begins at 40. And Glentoran debutant Curtis Allen – with a large number ‘40’ on his back – was the life and soul of the team as they ousted Portadown from the Irish Cup.
Even though he missed a second-half penalty, the ex-Inverness Caledonian Thistle man rallied to prove a thorn in the flesh of the Shamrock Park men, hitting two super goals that propelled the Glens into the sixth round and a pop at either Ards or Armagh.
“It was a dream start to my Oval career,” he enthused. “My second goal (in the dying seconds) was vital, as it killed off a spirited finale by Portadown – they threw everything at us in a grandstand finish.”
The Ports, down to 10 men for the final 10 minutes – Chris Ramsey was shown a second yellow – even called keeper David Miskelly to duty in that final onslaught, but the Glens’ magnificent defence held firm. Then, in a breakaway that saw four attackers against a single defender, Jordan Stewart played it to Allen and he whipped it home from 18 yards past Miskelly’s despairing dive.
It was tough luck of the brilliant keeper, whose acrobatics – including a great one-handed stop from Allen’s spot-kick – kept the Reds in the chase. But the Glens deserved their gutsy win.
Said manager Eddie Patterson: “Yes, Curtis played a blinder. But I have to pay special tribute to our defence. They were superb – they performed really well against a team of Portadown’s stature.”
The Glens dominated the opening skirmishes, and were rewarded on 19 minutes when Aaron Boyd pounced on a great stop by Miskelly and hammered home from close in. But they were pushed back on their heels when the Ports were awarded a penalty eight minutes later after a handball by Niall Henderson.
The quickness of Henderson’s hand deceived referee Arnold Hunter’s eye, but assistant Richard Storey spotted it, in the face of vehement protests. Slow-motion TV replays, though, showed the linesman was right and Darren Murray thumped the ball decisively home. One-all and the Ports were back in it.
A foul by Ramsey on 51 minutes on Boyd led to the penalty and the Miskelly magic. But the Glens powered on and Allen scored from close in when he swooped on another failure by the Ports defence to clear and the game swung east Belfast’s way. And it looked all-over when Ramsey grounded the unstoppable Allen and was sent off.
And then came the goal to seal it. Miskelly managed to get back between ‘the sticks’ while four Glen men descended on O’Hara and the fans behind the goals went mad with delight as Allen scored.