Glentoran 4, Ballymena United 0

Ballymena United’s miserable recent run of form continued as they slumped to another heavy Danske Bank Premiership defeat at the Oval.

Ballymena United skipper Allan Jenkins in action against Glentoran's Stephen McAlorum during Saturday's match at the Oval. Picture: Press Eye.
Ballymena United skipper Allan Jenkins in action against Glentoran's Stephen McAlorum during Saturday's match at the Oval. Picture: Press Eye.
Ballymena United skipper Allan Jenkins in action against Glentoran's Stephen McAlorum during Saturday's match at the Oval. Picture: Press Eye.

The Sky Blues conceded four goals - all of them in the second half - for the third game in succession as their freefall down the league table continues.

Indeed, but for the heroics of goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson, United would have suffered an even greater margin of defeat at a venue where they have enjoyed a great recent record.

Manager Glenn Ferguson made just one change from the last-gasp midweek Shield defeat at Cliftonville

As both teams struggled to cope with a strong crossfield breeze, United had a let-off in the ninth minute when Jay Magee’s long ball sailed over the head of Kyle McVey and into the path of the clear-breaking Curtis Allen but the striker took a heavy first touch and the ball carried on through to the grateful arms of Dwayne Nelson.

The east Belfast side came even closer a minute later when Allen went on a mazy run before cutting inside onto his favoured left foot and unleashing a fierce shot which beat Nelson but crashed back off the underside of the crossbar.

Ballymena’s first opening didn’t come until the 19th minute. A quickly-taken free kick by Gavin Taggart sent Tony Kane scampering clear on the right flank and Allan Jenkins just couldn’t get a decisive touch on his teasing cross, with defender Jay Magee bundling the ball over for a corner.

The home side, who were dominant in the early stages and should have gone in front on 26 minutes.

A ball was played into the left hand channel where Allen had time to square a low cross for the in-rushing Jordan Stewart whose close-range effort was met with a brilliant point-blank save by Nelson.

The Glens missed another clear opening on 33 minutes when Niall Henderson’s free kick from the right was only half-cleared and sat up nicely for Jim O’Hanlon 14 yards out but the Glentoran player could only mishit his shot wide of the target.

O’Hanlon was again involved on 38 minutes when his well-hit snap-shot was saved by Nelson who then reacted quickly to grab the loose ball with Allen closing in.

Ballymena threatened again as Tony Kane’s low cross was diverted wide at the front post by defender Barry Holland, while the Glens finished the first half on the attack with Allen’s curling shot brilliantly turned around the far post at full stretch by Nelson.

The Ballymena keeper again showed good handling skills in the opening minute of the second half, saving Allen’s downward header on the goal-line.

Glenn Ferguson introduced top scorer David Cushley from the bench and he immediately threaded a through ball to release Alan Teggart but as keeper Elliott Morris advanced from his goal, rather than go round the keeper, Teggart opted to clip the ball past the keeper’s near side and Jay Magee was on hand to clear the ball as it trundled towards goal.

But the home side’s dominance eventually told as they took the lead on 65 minutes. The goal owed much to the determination of Jordan Stewart who chased a seemingly lost cause as Tony Kane attempted to shepherd the ball out of play for a goal kick.

The youngster nicked possession close to the dead ball line and from his cross, Stephen Gordon’s initial shot was blocked but the ball fell into the path of Jim O’Hanlon, who slotted home from 14 yards.

And the home side doubled their advantage four minutes later when Niall Henderson’s cross from the right was met by Allen who instinctively poked the ball past Nelson from six yards.

Ballymena tried to find a way back into the game but as they threw men forward in search of a goal, they left inevitable gaps at the back and they were punished on 88 minutes as Jordan Stewart turned home Kym Nelson’s cross at the back post.

And the youngster rubbed salt in United’s wounds in stoppage time when he controlled a Fra McCaffrey cross before drilling a shot beyond Nelson.

Glentoran: Morris, Henderson, Magee, Addis, Holland, McAlorum, Nelson, Gordon, O’Hanlon, Stewart, Allen (sub McKee 90+2). Subs (not used): McCaffrey, Birney, McKee, McCullough, Hogg.

Ballymena United: Nelson, McVey, Munster, Ruddy, T Kane (sub Gawley 77), E Kane (sub Davidson 71), Taggart (sub Cushley 53), Jenkins, Teggart, Boyce, Tipton. Subs (not used): Surgenor, McCaul.

Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor).