LINFIELD 1 GLENTORAN 1
Curtis Allen grabbed a glorious injury time goal to rescue a point for Glentoran in the first Big Two game of the season at Windsor Park.
Linfield, who lost manager Warren Feeney last week, looked to have secured a victory when David Kee fired them into a second half lead, but the Glens came roaring back with Allen producing that late sting the tail.
Linfield were missing defender Sean Ward, who had to sit out an automatic one game ban following his dismissal at Cliftonville last weekend. Young defender Reece Glendinning debutised. Surprisingly, midfielder Jamie Mulgrew was deprived of making his 400th appearance in a blue shirt. He had to settled for a place on the substitutes’ bench along with Niall Quinn, with Kirk Millar Aaron Burns getting the nod.
Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson was still missing a number of his first team personnel due to injury, including Niall Henderson, Kym Nelson, Calum Birney and Jim O’Hanlon, while new signing Ciaran Caldwell remains out, serving a six game ban.
But there was better news for Patterson as Barry Holland, Jay Magee and Steven Gordon passed a late fitness test, while goalkeeper Elliott Morris was preferred to Aaron Hogg.
Even though they has lost three of the last four games, Glentoran were certainly not lacking in confidence. An early error from Stephen Lowry let in the dangerous Allen, but Mark Stafford came to his team mate’s rescue with a crucial block, just as the striker was about to pull the trigger.
Glens skipper Stephen McAlorum and Allen then combined down the left, but Marcus just failed to get a telling touch to a wonderful low cross.
Glentoran had the ball in the net only seconds into the second half, but Allen’s low shot was disallowed by referee Andrew Davey as Fra McCaffrey had strayed offside.
But it was the home fans that were on their feet on 63 minutes with that Kee goal.
Guy Bates threaded a superb pass into the path of the midfielder, who cheekily steered the ball wide of diving goalkeeper Elliott Morris.
But Allen sent the travelling fans home happy with that late equaliser, a spectacular scissors kick that flew into the top corner.
Linfield: Ross Glendinning 7, Stafford 7, Haughey 7, Waterworth 6, Lowry 6, Bates 6, Millar 6 (Sproule 68), Burns 6, Clarke 6, Kee 7 (Mulgrew 83), Reece Glendinning 6.
Subs not used: Deane, Hegarty, Quinn.
Glentoran: Morris 6, Garrett 6, Kane 6, Holland 6, Magee 7, Scullion 6, Allen 7, McCaffrey 6 (Smith 64), McAlorum 6, Addis 7, Gordon 6 (McMenamin 76).
Subs not used: Gibson, Elliott, Hogg.
Referee: A Davey (Bangor)