Glentoran reserves 3-3 Portadown Reserves

Well, what exactly can one say after observing that? For once I’m actually lost for words other than to say that lightning appears to have struck twice as this game – played against the same opponents – had a similar & eerie outcome to the one played earlier in the season at Shamrock Park. Well I don’t have the same amount of time on my hands that I normally allow myself on a Saturday night so I suppose we’d better get straight down to business!

This game actually opened up with almost complete Glentoran dominance. In fact we hadn’t too long to wait before Mark Hillen almost enjoyed an early slice of the action whereas he forced the Portadown keeper into performing a dribble motion across his goal with the ball at his feet, although this could well have had severe repercussions for the Ports due to their goalkeepers act of tomfoolery had Mark have managed to dispossess him!

Soon afterward, we really did manage to piece together a couple of really well worked moves. Most notably when Willie Garrett managed to single out young Lee Chapman on the right wing with a brilliantly executed ball from all of twenty yards. Lee, latched onto this like a leech, sprinted into the far right of the box then dispatched a real telling ball cut across the area. Mark Hillen, in fine form last night, seemed to touch it out in the direction of that class act Mason McSorley, whom, standing on the verge of the eighteen yard box, controlled it, before attempting a lovely curled effort that unfortunately just hovered by the left hand post! Great movement all round though!

In yet another great fluent attack, this time the awesome Mason McSorley played out his role rather splendidly as chief architect, when his great ball located young Lee Chapman, once again, in an almost identical position on the right wing – Lee once again cleverly drilled it across the danger area but as it reached Danny McKee, our out-of-sorts striker completely miscued in front of the goal, the ball made it’s way over to the far post where Mark Hillen’s predatory instincts seized upon the opportunity but unfortunately he just narrowly blazed it wide of the left hand post!

Young Stephen McCullough made a great pulsating run down the left hand wing, managing in the process to land a very dangerous ball into that red zone, but the Portadown defence – now at this point coming under intense pressure – managed to clear their lines at the expense of a corner. From the resulting corner the ball evidently ended up in the back of Portadown net, courtesy of Mark Hillen connecting from close range but regrettably the referee felt the urge to blow for some kind of bizarre infringement. (That nobody else seen apart from him!)

The highly productive Mason McSorley found himself in the thick of the action once again, this time playing a role very similar as Lee Chapman had played earlier – as provider from the right wing. Mason guided a super little ball at what we thought a nice height for Danny McKee to head home, but, not to be as Danny appeared to lose the spring in his step practically right in front of goal!

Our pressure eventually paid dividends as Mark Hillen, displaying those razor sharpe lightning predatory instincts that I spoke about earlier, galloped right into the box, chasing an almost lost cause of a ball, yet incredibly against the odds, outdid both defender & advancing goalkeeper as his outstretched leg managed to slot the ball into the Portadown net! 1-0 the wee Glens!

The Ports – whom overall at this stage where actually pretty quiet – managed to get themselves back into the game after a somewhat controversial decision by the referee. The red mean machine had seldom threatened up to this point – apart from an earlier free kick that had struck the makeshift Glentoran wall – but this time they did. In a rare attack, they managed to get back on level terms after a ball was played in from the right, Gary Watson, attempted to hook it clear on the line, however, it cut across the line, young Goalkeeper Gunning appeared to palm it away, but astonishingly the referee decided in his wisdom to award a goal! It’s history now, little point in crying over spilled milk but a highly dubious decision is the best way to describe it! Nevertheless, 1-1.

Mason McSorley – did anyone notice that sensational piece of skillful wizardry, deep inside opposition territory that left two Ports defenders left wondering where ball & man had gone? The final ball didn’t happen for Mason on this occasion but only a few moments later he played a sensational through ball that permitted Mark Hillen a one-to-one with the Ports keeper, however Mark’s looped effort just trickled agonisingly wide from the left hand post!

Portadown almost took the lead after a free kick was awarded to them about half way inside the Glentoran half out on the right. The ball was played in at a stunning pace, meeting the head of their number ten who really should have done much, much better given the dangerous position that he had taken up, practically in front of our goal, yet amazingly, he somehow managed to steer his menacing header wide of the left hand post!

As it turned out though, it was the wee Glens that resumed the lead. Mark Hillen, a real thorn in the flesh of our opponents in this opening half, dispossessed a red jersey on the right side of the pitch, Mark then cut in toward goal, with his red clad opponent attempting to knock him of his stride – however it was Mark who shirked free from his challenge, enabled himself a shot at goal albeit it at a reasonably acute angle that the keeper did well to save, but the ball only ran as far as young Ethan Knipe who rattled it deep into the Portadown net with all the class that he possesses! Ethan really has impressed me this past couple of games, I look forward to both watching & reporting on his progress in the future! 2-1 the wee Glens!

Portadown did semi-threaten on a couple of occasions, but when this did happen we dealt with it comfortably enough. Goalkeeper Gunning fisted one dangerous ball clear, on another a powerful defensive header from Stephen McCullough seen off any imminent danger when originally launched deep into the near right hand post.

Mason McSorley, swivelled, spun, then unleashed a rocket of a shot that actually struck & bounced clear from the Portadown goalkeepers chest. almost winding him in the process! The midfield enforcer, Ryan Mahood, happened to be unlucky whereby his power-blaster aimed at the target cannoned against a couple of Portadown defenders who must have thought that they’d been struck by a missile, it was driven into the box at such a swirling pace!

2-1 the wee Glens at half time, a lead that at this point we fully deserved!

Now then, what happened next after this absorbing first half display? Well, from our perspective – nothing! In an almost mirror image as the game played earlier in the season at Shamrock Park- we just ground to a halt! We took our finger of the pulse, became lethargic, at times sloppy, thus in the latter stages of this game some of our so-called defending was so shocking that it was actually bordering on criminal!!!

Anyhow, both teams took to the field, huffed & puffed for about fifteen minutes, created nothing worthy of mention or discussion. Then completely out of the blue, young Mason McSorley retrieved the ball on the left wing before sending a deft little touch in the direction of his colleague Mattie Kerr. Mattie, looked up, rolled the ball out to the ‘enforcer’ Ryan Mahood, who met this first time from all of thirty-yards or so. Ryan caught the ball beautifully, with stunning pace the ball traveled upward, rising with the power that aided it, it torpedoed deep into the top right corner of the
Portadown net! Ryan provided us with an absolutely magnificent goal last night, a real wonder goal! A contender for goal of the season! 3-1 the wee Glens!

The rest as they say is now history as Portadown crept more & more into the game, soon they had reduced the arrears to 3-2 after some poor defending on our part led to a straight route at goal that benefited a Ports attacker: Goalkeeper Gunning give it his best efforts to try & snuff out the danger, but the Ports player rounded him slotting the ball into the empty net.

Portadown now seemingly started to take control as young Ethan Knipe was called upon to make a last ditch challenge deep inside our box, as it seemed a certain goal was inevitable after a Ports player had raced into the box, side-footing a challenge in the process, however just as he was about to pull the trigger young Ethan calmly took the ball from him, taking the play to outside our box where he had eventually cleared our lines.

In another instance it took a great intervention from Stephen McCullough – who almost methodically stuck out a leg to bring the ball under under control – after a fine cross had been launched deep inside our danger zone, Stephen done really well to thwart the menace.

In a rare breakaway – we where now seriously under the cosh – Sandy McDermott, from a midfield central position – singled out Stephen McCullough who in turn made a great run down the left whose searching & inviting ball into the box could not unfortunately be picked up on by our strike force.

Mark you, we did almost make it 4-2 after another great little player called Stephen Boyd had come on as a late substitute. Again though, to be fair, now against the run of play, Stephen’s cracking shot was well saved by the Portadown keeper who actually spilled it but we had no one on hand to decisively punish it .

In the dying moments though it was Portadown who -not for the first time this season – went on to severely punish us for some lax & laid-back defending, that all stemmed from the left – that was not dealt with in the appropriate or professional manor hence the allowance for an easy cut back into the box that was driven into our net for the equalizer! 3-3 each!

Right, okay: It’s a match that we should have won comfortably as we where in the driving seat for long periods within this game. We have no one to blame but ourselves for our own kamikaze style antics in this crazy second half.

Glentoran Seconds;

1/ John Gunning 2/ Lee Chapman 3/ Stephen McCullough 4/ Ethan Knipe 5/ Willie Garrett 6/Gary Watson 7/ Ryan Mahood 8/ Mattie Kerr 9/ Danny McKee 10/Mason McSorley 11/ Mark Hillen

Subs: Stephen Boyd, Ross Stewart, Adam Calvert, Sandy McDermott & Dylan Elliot.