Battling Warrenpoint earn a deserved share of the spoils against Glentoran

Mick McDermott’s Glentoran signed off for Christmas with a whimper at the Oval last night.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 10:19 pm
Glentoran's Patrick McClean and Warrenpoint Town's Alan O'Sullivan. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Glentoran's Patrick McClean and Warrenpoint Town's Alan O'Sullivan. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

In their final home game before the Festive break, they failed to impress against a battling Warrenpoint Town, who could well have left east Belfast with all three points.

Again, only a limited amount of fans – 500 in total – were permitted to attend due to Covid restrictions.

It was hardly surprising that McDermott named only one change to the team after they thrashed Carrick Rangers at the weekend, drafting in Gael Bigirimana in place of Hrvoje Plum, who was only back from a serious cruciate ligament injury on Saturday.

With both goalkeeper Gabriel Sava and defender Gavin Peers missing – they were both dismissed at Coleraine on Saturday – Andy Coleman and Luke Gallagher deputized.

Glentoran had scare after only six minutes when goalkeeper Dayle Coleing made a total hash of clearing a long throw-in from the right by full-back Colm Deasy – an early let-off for the Gibraltar international.

Although they had a lot of early possession, McDermott’s boys lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

They did have a sight at goal on 13 minutes. Jay Donnelly’s ball through the middle found the unmarked Robbie McDaid, but his own team-mate Gael Bigirimana managed to whip the ball off his toe.

Town grew in confidence as the half wore on. Coleing made up for his earlier error when rushing from his line to pluck the ball off the toe of striker Alan O’Sullivan, following a defence-splitting pass from the impressive Kealan Dillon.

Tidy and creative on the ball, Gray’s team were prepared to shoot on sight. An uncharacteristic slip from Glens’ skipper Marcus Kane presented Ryan Swan with a chance, but his 20-yard drive forced Coleing into a smart low save.

Then, with the clock ticking down to half-time, Luke Gallagher tried his luck from distance that the big shot-stopper managed to gather at the second attempt.

Glentoran roared from the traps after the restart with Donnelly hurtling through the middle on to a Dale Gorman pass, but referee Evan Boyce pulled it up, having adjudged the striker of handling the ball.

They home team were almost in front on 50 minutes with the best move of the game so far.

Gorman’s delicious pass picked out the jet-heeled Paul O’Neill, whose low drive appeared destined for the bottom corner until Coleman stuck out a leg to deflect for a corner kick.

But Town came bouncing back with Francis McCaffery sending Swan darting through the middle which had Coleing rushing from to make a hasty clearance.

And, on 67 minutes, McCaffrey was again the provider, this time pass picked out the speedy Dillon, whose low drive brought a great response from Coleing.

The Glens really should have been in front with 18 minutes remaining. Gorman’s short corner routine found substitute Jamie McDonagh, whose cross was met by the towering Paddy McClean, but the big defender shamefully headed wide from point blank range.

McDermott gambled by taking off the ineffective Bigirimana, sending on fans’ hero Hrvoje Plum and it almost paid an immediate dividend.

The Croatian sent in a rasping drive from 30-yards that had Coleman at full stretch, the goalkeeper getting a strong hand to the effort to push it past the post.

It was now all one way traffic. McDonagh’s low cross was met by McDaid, but somehow Deasy got back to deflect clear when a goal looked imminent.

GLENTORAN: Coleing, Marron, McCullough, McClean, Kane, Gorman, Bigirimana (Plum 75), C Gallagher, O’Neill (McDonagh 69), McDaid, J Donnelly. Subs not used: Brown, R Donnelly, Mitchell, Smith, Crowe.

WARRENPOINT TOWN: Coleman, Deasy, Ball, L Gallagher, Wallace, Hutchinson (O’Connor 78), McCaffrey, McVeigh, Dillon, O’Sullivan (Carroll 62), Swan. Subs not used: McMullan, Mullan, Knox, Carson, Forsythe.

REFEREE: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan).