Match reporter: Calum Jones
Glenavon 6-2 Ballinamallard United, Mourneview Park, Tuesday August 15th
Glenavon made it two wins from their opening two games of the 2017/18 Danske Bank Premiership season with an emphatic 6-2 win over Ballinamallard United at Mourneview Park on Tuesday night.
It was a night to remember for returning winger Adam Foley, who more than justified manager Gary Hamilton’s decision to bring him into the starting 11 by scoring a stunning second-half hat-trick.
Striker Andrew Mitchell, also back at Mourneview for a second spell following his prolific stint at Dungannon Swifts, got his season up and running with two second-half goals of his own.
Mitchell was also involved in Glenavon’s first goal, combining well with Marc Griffin and Rhys Marshall in a move which resulted in the midfielder cancelling out Ballinamallard striker Ryan Curran’s 27th-minute penalty.
The impressive Curran can consider himself unlucky to have ended up on the losing side. He grabbed his second of the game on 72 minutes, but in truth that goal was little more than consolation for the Mallards, because by that stage Glenavon were out of sight as a result of a 15-minute spell of devastating attacking football at the beginning of the second half which brought four goals.
There was a bright start to the game, with both teams intent on going at each other, but it wasn’t until midway through the first half before the opening goal arrived. James Singleton’s sliding tackle on Curran was clumsy, and referee Keith Kennedy brandished a yellow card to the left-back before pointing to the spot. Curran picked himself up to dispatch the spot-kick, stroking the ball inside Jonny Tuffeyâ€™s left-hand post.
The Mallards weren’t in front for long, however. Rhys Marshall’s equaliser just 90 seconds later showcased why he is perhaps the most complete player in Irish League football. Marshall intercepted the ball inside his own half and surged down the left wing before finding Griffin, who played the ball inside to Mitchell. Marshall continued his run to latch on to Mitchell’s clever back heel before guiding a low shot into the far corner.
Both sides will feel they could have gone in front before the half-time whistle, with Griffin putting a header over from six yards out for Glenavon and Curran dragging a shot wide for Ballinamallard.
Glenavon grabbed the lead eight minutes into the second half. Mitchell charged down Mallards keeper Richard Brush’s attempted clearance and the ball deflected to Andy Hall. Hall picked Foley out at the back post and the winger’s downward header found the net.
Foley grabbed his second, and Glenavon’s third, just two minutes later. Griffin’s header from a Marshall cross was blocked, but the ball fell to Foley and he fired a right-foot shot into the top corner from 12 yards out.
Mitchell got in on the act in the 55th minute, meeting Hall’s excellent low cross to guide the ball past Brush from close range, before Foley completed his hat-trick just after the hour mark. Bobby Burns’s long-range effort came back off the bar and Foley lashed an acrobatic half volley past Brush at his near post to make it 5-1.
The Mallards pulled a goal back against the run of play ten minutes later. Niall Brennan played the ball in to Curran and the big striker allowed it to run across him, stepping inside Caolan Marron in the process, before hitting a shot that Tuffey will be disappointed not to have kept out.
Mitchell rounded off an excellent performance from the home side when he added his second in injury time to make it 6-2. Marshall’s long diagonal ball found Singleton on the left and his cross was met by a diving header from the number nine.
Next up for Glenavon is a trip to the Ballymena Showgrounds on Saturday (August 19th) to face a Ballymena United side who will be determined to kick-start their season, having claimed just one point from their opening two matches.
Glenavon have secured a number of handsome wins over the Sky Blues in recent seasons, but they will be under no illusion about the difficulty of the task in front of them on Saturday, with Ballymena having defeated them at the Showgrounds in the Europa League Play-Off Final back in May to deny the Lurgan Blues European football for a fourth consecutive season.
Glenavon: 1. Jonny Tuffey, 3. Bobby Burns, 5. Andrew Doyle, 8. Rhys Marshall (Goal, 29 mins), 9. Andrew Mitchell (Goals, 55 mins & 90+1 mins), 10. Marc Griffin, 11. Andy Hall, 15. Caolan Marron, 17. Andrew McGrory, 19. Adam Foley (Goals, 51 mins, 53 mins, 61 mins), 27. James Singleton
Subs: 30. Jordan Jenkins (62 mins, for Griffin), 12. Mark Patton (66 mins, for Foley), 4. Simon Kelly (76 mins, for Hall); unused â€“ 13. Conall Young, 16. Sammy Clingan
Bookings: 27. Singleton (26 mins)
Ballinamallard United: 1. Richard Brush, 3. Colm McLoughlin, 6. Richard Clarke, 8. Stuart Hutchinson, 9. Ryan Curran (Goals, 27 mins (pen) & 72 mins), 10. Ciaran Martyn, 11. Jay McCartney, 12. Jonathan Leddy, 14. Josh McIlwaine, 17. Niall Owens, 20. Matthew Smyth
Subs: 2. Ryan McConnell (60 mins, for Martyn), 16. Blaine Burns (60 mins, for Clarke), 19. Niall Brennan (66 mins, for Owens); unused 7. Shane McGinty, 23. Cameron Crawford
Bookings: 2. McConnell (78 mins), 16. Burns (81 mins)
Referee: Keith Kennedy