Tommy Breslin left frustrated as Cliftonville draw a blank against Glentoran

Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris shows some safe hands
Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris shows some safe hands

Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin failed to point the finger at misfiring strikers Joe Gormley and Liam Boyce after this thriller at the Oval.

The Reds missed the opportunity to leapfrog Linfield at the top of the Premiership after the Blues slipped up at Coleraine.

The normally lethal strike duo, who have bagged 56 goals between them this season, should have had this game put to bed before half-time, but they failed miserably, mostly through some wasteful finishing and inspired goalkeeeper form Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris.

Even Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson admitted: “We were lucky not to be three or four goals down in the first 45 minutes – we were pathetic.”

It was total one-way traffic with Morris producing a series of wonder saves to deny Boyce and Gormley.

And, when Boyce did eventually get one past him, the ball cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar and was eventually cleared.

“It was just one of those days,” said Breslin.

“If you wanted the chances to fall to anyone, it would be Liam and Joe. Had one of the chances gone in, we probably would have won with a bit to spare.

“It wasn’t the case of us showing any nerves because I thought we played really well in the first half especially. I wasn’t so happy with our display after the break.

“Our approach play was good and Joe worked the channels well – he was a handful. When Liam’s shot came back off the bar, I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be our day. I emphasised to the boys afterwards that they must be a bit more ruthless in front of goal.

“People will be saying we blew a big chance, with Linfield being held to a draw, but they’ll be saying the same.

“The bottom line is you are going to get days like these – no one is going to hand us the league. It was encouraging that we created so many chances. Hopefully, they can get their shooting boots on for next week.

“We’ll work on it during the week – the sharpness will return.”

Even though Patterson was happier with his team’s seocnd half display, an injury to centre-back Jay Magee means he’ll probably be missing for the rest of the season.

“It’s a blow – the diagnosis is that he has damaged ankle ligaments,” said Patterson. “That’s what has been like – we’ve been crippled by injury this season sometimes with six or seven players out at one time.

“Cliftonville should have been out of sight at half-time – we should have been four goals down, there is no doubt that. We made the substitution at half-time, introducing Niall Henderson because Mark Clarke just wasn’t performing – I was going to take him off after 25 minutes, but Jay’s injury scuppered that, so we struggled through to half-time. Stephen McAlorum was doing the work for the two of them.

“They responded and the game could have went either way in the second half.”