Ballyclare Comrades 0 Glentoran 4
Curtis Allen was the toast of east Belfast following his four goal Ballyclare blitz that secured Glentoran’s place in the quarter-final of the Tennent’s Irish Cup.
What a baptism of fire it was for former Northern Ireland international goalkeeper Alan Blayney. On his Ballyclare Comrades debut he was beaten twice in the opening seven minutes, and when Allen completed his hat-trick before the interval, it heralded damage limitation tactics for the hosts in the second half.
At that stage Glens fans must have been expecting a goalfest at Dixon Park, but all they got was another Allen strike from the penalty spot that clinched the 4-0 whitewash.
Following a recent dip in form Comrades manager Clifford Adams made four changes, but his plans were soon in tatters after Allen opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a beauty in to the top corner from the edge of the box, and then doubled his tally a minute later when his volley deceived Blayney, and the ball trickled in to the net.
Comrades responded positively and Mark Kelly perhaps should have done better when his close range header from a Thomas Robinson cross cleared the bar, and then keeper Elliott Morris was glad to see a Francis Dugan effort flash just wide.
However the Glens regained control and Allen earned the match ball in the 37th minute when he anticipated an Adam McCart back-pass, and he continued to torment the home defence by setting up chances for Peter McMahon and John McGuigan, but Blayney came to the rescue each time to leave it 3-0 at the break.
Comrades resumed with leading striker Stewart Nixon on for Dugan, but all hopes of a home revival vanished in the 49th minute when Allen converted a penalty conceded by Chris Rodgers, who fouled McGuigan in the box.
Almost straight from the restart the home goal had a let-off when McGuigan’s drive crashed against the post, and there was another scare when a McMahon volley fizzed just wide.
Allen’s 67th minute substitution offered Comrades some hope, and in the 70th minute Morris did well to tip over a Kelly header from a Matty Parker cross, and later only another Morris save at the expense of a corner prevented Gary Brown from securing a consolation goal.
Several times in recent years Glentoran have scraped wins at Dixon Park in various cup competitions, but they were undisputed winners this time, and have been rewarded with a trip to Coleraine with a place in the semi-final at stake.