Glentoran reserves 2-1 Ballymena United

An excellent game of football played out at the Oval yesterday evening although I must state that the most pleasing element for me happened to be the overall solid performance given by the wee Glens after coming in for a barrage of severe criticism after their somewhat uncharacteristic poor display given in their last last outing at the Coleraine Showgrounds. However, by contrast, normal service & proper order was seemingly restored last night whereupon not only did we manage to collect those three valuable points but managed to distribute a thoroughly professional performance in the attainment of those points.

However, another highly pleasing factor that must be brought to the readers attention happened to be the presence of our newly appointed first team manager Mr Alan Kernoghan. I must say, that I have been highly impressed so far to date by Mr Kernoghan – he came across well in the interview that I, like so many others, watched on the Glens TV – we witnessed an embodiment of confidence, correct attitude, professionalism, whilst most importantly, especially for this section – a vital component that he happened to mention is that he intends to build for the future centered upon the emphasis of youth. Sweet music to the ears, that’s the sort of grand homily that can strike a chord with us, one that we can all fully appreciate on-line here.

Nevertheless, to return to other events at the Oval last night – this entertaining spectacle of a match between the wee Glens & Ballymena Utd produced it’s first noteworthy moment as little as five minutes gone on the referees watch: after the ball happened to be somewhat haphazardly hooked away by a yellow shirt (The sky blues where playing in yellow last night) deep inside his own area, this poor clearance was automatically snatched upon by the young dynamic presence of Dylan Elliot – Dylan, strided onto the eighteen yard box thus unleashed a fine daisy churner toward the target, however this was gathered reasonably comfortably by the Ballymena keeper although I think Dylan had more time than what he initially thought, had he chosen to take the ball slightly further whereby would surely have made life much more difficult for the Ballymena custodian.

Shortly there afterward, the awesome Mason McSorley became the victor in a bone-crunching encounter practically on the right of the pitch with one of our yellow-cladded opponents – Mason intelligently, systematically rolled the ball across to his colleague Dee Fearon, whom. from about twenty yards out laced the ball toward the Ballymena goal, however, this struck & cannoned from the body of a Ballymena defender standing in close proximity to that of Dee – the end result a corner, as the ball went hurdling past the right hand post!

My man of the match award last night went to Paddy Caffola whom enjoyed a sizzler of a game throughout the entire ninety minutes. For our next party trick Paddy happened to highly influential – he made a mazy weaver bird style run, skilfully eluding & skipping past two Ballymena challenges thence proceeded to single out Fra McCaffrey with a ball so delicate & finely tuned that it could have been threaded through the eye of a needle – it was a truly glorious ball – Fra latched upon it, but with only the advancing keeper left to beat he elected to shoot to the left, but the keeper made a fine save by using his legs as a barrier! Great play all round, but I personally thought Fra should have opened up the match!

Ballymena where initially quiet in this period: In actual fact, I seem to recall the only half chance that they created was ricocheted clear from the frame of Dylan Elliot, after he got in the way of a thunderous drive aimed toward our goal, but Dylan stood his ground well.

A tremendous young player to emerge this season has been a lad called Ciaran Cloigherty – Astonishingly, Ciaran occupied the number two position last night as right- back. Once again though, young Ciaran proved himself the ideal utility player – a sort of man for all seasons – as he, once again, filled in giving a highly credible, comprehensive & convincing performance throughout. Notwithstanding the defensive duties that he undertook last night he also played a major role in several of our attacks. I recall a well taken free kick that he delivered into the box, aimed at Mason McSorley whom had taken up a position on the right deep inside that area. Mason, hammered the ball across the six yard box but on this occasion Lady Luck favoured Ballymena as the ball deflected of one of their shirts for a corner!

Classy Paddy Cafolla despatched a sublime ball to the feet of the all-action man Fra McCaffery (McCaffrey had a good game himself last night) Fra, took a sidewards glance, before attempting to play the ball over to the far-left whereas Glentoran attackers were now descending like a flock of predatory hawks – however, Fra’s ball ricocheted from the back of a Ballymena defender, the ball spun wickedly & viciously totally out of control, veered toward the far left hand corner of the net – only missing the target by a mere cats whisker!

We came extremely close to opening up the game after a fabulous ball was sent screaming into the area from a corner kick taken from the left by Fra McCaffrey – this was met by a tremendous forceful powerful header by the magnificent Mason McSorley, whose almost assiduous attempt on goal rattled the crossbar! Superb effort!

In an almost identical reenactment of this move, the same double act came equally close moments later – Fra McCaffrey’s pin point cross again found Mason, again this fabulous young man most unlucky to witness his glancing header just ghost wide of the right hand post!

Matthew Dempster tried his luck with a spectacular thirty-five yard drive that he almost executed to sheer perfection – Matthew’s superb effort soared through the night-sky like a torpedo, dipping at the last moment, agonizingly though just skimmed over the crossbar!

Finally though, our sustained pressure finally paid dividends. Fra McCaffrey, the provider as he surged down the left wing, cut in toward the box although he seemed to be momentarily dispossessed by a Sky-blue defender. However, Fra’s sheer dogged persistence paid off as he won back possession, glanced up, noticed Karl Hamill standing unmarked in the box – Fra singled him out with a well placed pass that young Hamill gleefully met first time, crashing the ball into the roof of the Ballymena net! 1-0 the wee Glens!

Fra McCaffrey made yet another galloping run from midfield, beating one man whilst seeing off another – his telling ball played over to the left was subsequently met by Dee Fearon, but his initial control appeared to let him down somewhat as the once promising opportunity carved out came basically to nothing.

Ballymena equalized after our defence failed to close down an attack that had built its way up onto the edge of the box – the Ballymena player, switched play to his right, before sending an unstoppable shot that cruised into the bottom left hand corner of our net. In fairness, it was a great finish that give Aaron Hogg no chance. 1-1.

In the meantime, Mason McSorley had to retire early due to a knee injury sustained in a 50-50 challenge with a Ballymena player although no malice whatsoever intended on the part of our opponent. We wish Mason a fast & speedy recovery. He was replaced by the live-wire Johnny McGaw. Incidentally, Carter Savage had replaced Jay Magee much earlier in the game.

Ballymena crept more into the game now, at times their movement became neat & slick – the aforementioned Carter Savage was called upon to make a couple of great defensive body-blocks, as indeed, Aaron Hogg was forced to make a couple of smart saves moreover when one came at him from outside the box, the second an even better save, as the ball was drilled in from the right, Aaron smothered it competently.

Johnny McGaw fervently sent a ball of phenomenal proportions, that singled out Fra McCaffrey, again deep inside the box, Fra initially controlled it well, but fired straight at the keeper when if we are to be honest he should have restored our lead.

However, as I have already said, Fra McCaffrey give a good overall account of himself last night – he surprised everyone by rolling the ball out onto the verge of the eighteen yard box from a corner kick taken from the right – Classy Cafolla drilled this first time, Paddy most unlucky as his astronomical strike flew toward the target, crashing off the right hand post! Simply magnificent effort from young Paddy!

Shortly afterward the referee blew for half-time.

Second half.

I happened to concentrate heavily upon the action that occurred mainly in the first half for I felt that bar a brief spell nearing the end of that half, we completely dominated. This second half period never quite lived up the expectations that we encountered in the first, but believe you me, this match was never dull. Fra McCaffrey came off at half time, substituted by a young lad full of promise called Jack Graham.
I have observed Jack attribute to several Glentoran seconds performances now, whereas I can honestly state that he is a young lad that never disappoints. This young lad has much potential.

Young Jack Graham – a left sided player – almost prised open the Ballymena defence with a magisterial ball that found his colleague, another super young player that never fails to impress called Adam Calvert – whose systematic burst of speed into the box allowed him to catch the ball on the fly – as a result, Adam’s supreme effort appeared goal-bound as it seemingly soared toward the top right hand corner of the net, however, the Ballymena keeper reacted with a miraculous save although all to no avail – the referee had blew as he adjudged young Adam to have been initially in an off -side position. I take the view that the referees decision was somewhat dubious.

Ballymena missed a gift-wrapped opportunity to put themselves in front; After the ball was swept in from the right, incredibly their number nine could only recoil in horror as he rifled a shot at our target whilst practically positioned on the penalty spot! I don’t quite know whom he hit, but the shot seemed to cannon of one of our defenders thus made its way past the right hand post! Houdini himself would have bragged with getting away with that lucky escape!

Nevertheless, thankfully we ourselves were not so wasteful – Dylan Elliot released young Jack Graham with a subsequent little ball down the left wing – Jacks pulsating & energetic run resulted in a meticulous ball played over to the right inside the box that was met most emphatically by classy Paddy Cafolla whom steadied himself first, before coolly & clinically slotting the ball into the Ballymena net to restore our advantage! 2-1 the wee Glens & a goal synonomous with pure class!

This second half was certainly more even-steven -In actual fact Ballymena managed to carve a few openings of their own, Aaron Hogg had to be bright & bushy tailed on at least two occasions – most notably when their highly industrious number seven set up a great opportunity for a one to one showdown with our keeper, but big Aaron came out the winner as he spreadeagled himself to save a ‘toe-poked’ effort from relative close quarters by use of his chest, whilst on another occasion he finger-tipped a well drilled free kick over the crossbar hit from all of twenty-yards!
Some of the sky-blues counter attacks were proving quicksilver & somewhat menacing.

Ciaran Clougherty made a tremendous run to the bi-line, he managed to cut it back for the man of the moment Paddy Cafolla to attempt to increase our arrears but on this occasion, Paddy’s shot – a good one – struck the back of a Ballymena defender.

Paddy Cafolla beautifully side stepped one challenge, sent a defender one way, whilst he himself went the other before propelling a fabulously weighed ball into the path of Dee Fearon, but Dee a little unlucky this time as the Balllymena defender dispossessed him to deny him a clear run on goal.

Ballymena applied pressure in last five minutes of this game, perhaps the most anxious moment caused when big Aaron had to save with his feet as their number twelve attempted to side-foot home from a relatively acute angle: they forced a couple of corner kicks but big Hoggy claimed both with apparent ease.

We held out to secure our victory: a good hard earned three points & a highly enjoyable match. Well done to all concerned – Jason, Glen & Adrain & all the lads!
I think I’ll just finish with a quip that l used in my introductory post- ” Now that’s more like the wee Glens we know & love so well”!
Well done boys!

Glentoran Seconds –

1/ Aaron Hogg 2/ Ciaran Clougherty 3/ Adam Calvert 4/ Karl Hamill 5/ Jay Magee 6/ Matthew Dempster 7/ Patrick Cafolla 8/ Mason McSorley 9/ Dee Fearon 10/ Francis McCaffrey 11/ Dylan Elliot

Subs – Johnny McGaw, James Coffey, Jack Graham & Carter Savage.