Byline: Sam GARDINER
StrainLEAGUE leaders Glentoran had to battle hard against Lisburn Distillery players who fought as if their lives were on the line.
This, however, was a vital win for Glentoran given the defeat of champions Portadown at the hands of their bitter rivals Linfield.
When the news came through that the Blues were ahead, the Glentoran fans cheered and urged their team on.
For once the Glentoran front line only had a single goal to show for their efforts, but neither they nor Andy Smith in particular will worry about that, the points were their reward in a competitive match.
Both keepers, Elliott Morris from Glentoran and Distillery's Phil Matthews have been in fine form throughout the season and so they proved again yesterday.
It was Matthews who earned the first mark when he blocked Scott Young's drive in the 10th minute. But three minutes later, he could do little to prevent Andy Smith from netting his 24th goal of the season.
The goal was a simple finish to a great move involving Darren Armour and Michael O'Neill.
Armour sent a long ball up the middle of the park before O'Neill ran in behind the defence towards goal. Rather than shoot, he unselfishly slipped the ball across the empty goal as Matthews came out towards him and Smith fired into the empty net.
The goal unsettled the Whites and after Smith had then fired wide again, Alan Emerson was unlucky not to have connected at the back post with Gary Clifford's cross in the 24th minute.
Glentoran defender Gary Smyth was then denied what looked like a goal after Matthews had made a brilliant point blank save to deny former Whites striker Armour.