Frustration for St Patrick's as Morris and Glentoran stand firm
St Patrick’s Ath 0 Glentoran 0A crucial stoppage time save from goalkeeper Elliot Morris ensured Glentoran’s Setanta Sports Cup hopes remain very much alive as they totally frustrated a dominant St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park.
Elliot, captain on the night with Colin Nixon rested to the bench, got down superbly to turn St Patrick’s substitute Jordan Keegan’s low drive round a post after incisive work by Ger O’Brien with the watch into the 92nd minute.
Despite running this game from start to finish, Liam Buckley’s St Patrick’s have it all to do at The Oval in next Monday night’s second leg.
Buckley started four – Shane McFaul, Conan Byrne, Conor Murphy and Killian Brennan – of his seven new signings in his preferred 4-3-3 line-up, though Christy Fagan, their topscorer last season, was crucially absent due to an ankle injury.
Sixth in the Irish League, manager Eddie Patterson made a raft of changes to what was a youthful looking Glentoran side as leading scorer this season, Andy Waterworth, joined Nixon on the bench while Stephen Carson was suspended and fellow midfielder Richard Clarke couldn’t travel due to work commitments.
Expressing an eager tempo from the off, St Patrick’s were encouraged as early as the second minute when carving open the visitors’ defence, Anto Flood putting Brennan in behind with the ensuing dangerous low cross hacked away by Jay Magee.
Chris Forrester cut in from the right to work Morris on 11 minutes as St Patrick’s maintained the early momentum.
In a sustained bout of pressure, the impressive Brennan’s goal bound free-kick was deflected out off the head of defender Jason Hill. Captain Conor Kenna headed a Byrne corner into the side netting before O’Brien had a good shout for a penalty ignored by referee Derek Tomney after he appeared to have been pulled down by Calum Birney.
Brennan’s industry and guile continued to catch the eye and the 29-year-old, who won this competition with Bohemians in 2010, drilled narrowly wide five minutes before the break as the lead St Patrick’s utterly dominant first half deserved failed to materialise.
In fact, in a rare foray forward it was Glentoran who almost snatched the lead in the 45th minute. John McGuigan pounced on a mistake by Kenny Browne to put Richard Gibson in on goal. Ever alert to the danger, Brendan Clarke was off his line to save.
Substitute Sean Gannon came close to breaking the deadlock on 74 minutes and then came Morris’s inspirational save to keep the sides level at the end.