Coleraine 1 – 1 Glenavon
Danske Bank Premiership
Coleraine Showgrounds, Saturday February 10th 2018
Match Report by Calum Jones
Photos by Maynard Collins/SportmediaNI and Lorcan Doherty/Presseye
Glenavon earned a hard-fought point against second-placed Coleraine on Saturday following a 1 – 1 draw in a match that was entertaining to watch despite the terrible weather conditions.
Jonathan Tuffey saved Ciaron Harkin’s penalty towards the end of the first half after Caolan Marron had been adjudged to have fouled Jamie McGonigle.
Andrew Hall then gave Glenavon the lead against the run of play early in the second half when he turned in Rhys Marshall’s header from a Bobby Burns corner, but Coleraine hit back on the hour mark as former Glenavon striker Eoin Bradley converted a free-kick.
The Lurgan Blues ended the game with 10 men following Mark Sykes’s late dismissal for a lunge on Bradley.
The home side raced out of the blocks and really could have scored three times in the opening five minutes. First Bradley found himself one-on-one with Tuffey when he was played in by a clever back-heel from strike partner McGonigle, who’d been fed the ball by midfielder Martin Smith. Tuffey was out quickly and spread himself to snuff out Bradley’s effort.
McGonigle then had an opportunity of his own, but Tuffey raced out to the edge of his area to meet him and did brilliantly to rob the striker of the ball as he attempted to round him.
The impressive Gareth McConaghie had a great chance to score when Josh Carson’s free-kick from the right was flicked on to him by captain Stephen O’Donnell, but the centre-back, who’s just been named the NIFWA Player of the Month for January, couldn’t direct his header on target.
For Glenavon, Sykes and Stephen Murray had tame efforts on goal which didn’t threaten Chris Johns, while McConaghie had another good headed chance in the 27th minute for the hosts from a Darren McCauley corner, but again he failed to hit the target.
On 33 minutes McConaghie then played an excellent high pass out to McGonigle on the left edge of the Glenavon penalty area, but the young striker blazed his effort over the bar.
Three minutes later McConaghie fouled Joel Cooper in a dangerous area. Sammy Clingan stepped up to take the resulting free-kick and curled an excellent effort round the wall which required a very good save from Johns, who dived at full stretch to his left to tip the ball round the post.
Coleraine were awarded a penalty in the 42nd minute. Marron and McGonigle tussled for the ball on the left flank. It looked as though the Glenavon defender had got the better of the Coleraine man, only for McGonigle to nip in front of him as they entered the box. The striker went to ground and referee Ian McNabb awarded what looked like a very soft penalty. It was a decision which enraged the travelling support.
The Glenavon fans will feel that justice was done, however, when Tuffey saved the spot-kick. The goalkeeper was booked for his protests about the decision, but he composed himself to keep out Harkin’s penalty. The midfielder struck his effort down the middle, but despite the fact that he was diving to his right, Tuffey managed to get his left leg to the ball and keep it out.
Glenavon will have been wondering how they were still level at the break, but they made a much better start to the second half and were rewarded with the game’s opening goal.
Some very good build-up play on the right involving Hall, Sykes and Marshall forced a corner, which Burns swung in. Marshall rose highest and headed the ball goalwards, but it was Hall who got the last touch to turn it into the net and make it 1 – 0 to the Lurgan Blues.
The visitors threatened to add a second minutes later when Cooper drove a dangerous cross in from the left, but Johns did very well to hold on to the ball.
Glenavon weren’t to be in front for long, though, as Coleraine levelled on the hour mark. The Bannsiders were awarded a free-kick just outside the Glenavon box in somewhat controversial circumstances, as it appeared that they could have been penalised just seconds before for a robust challenge on Marshall.
The awarding of the free-kick may have been dubious, but the execution of it was anything but. Smith ran over the ball and left it for Bradley, who struck a brilliant shot which went over the wall and curled away from Tuffey, giving the goalkeeper no chance and drawing the Bannsiders level.
At this stage the game almost threatened to become a personal duel between Bradley and Tuffey. In the 64th minute the striker had an overhead kick which was comfortably saved by the goalkeeper, but two minutes later Tuffey had to make a top class save when Bradley got his head to a cross from left-back Aaron Traynor. Bradley’s looping header was destined for the top corner, but Tuffey leapt up to his left to push the ball over the bar.
In the 75th minute Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton was sent from the dugout for expressing his anger at the growing number of refereeing decisions which were going against his side.
Both sides might have nicked a winner in the closing stages. Substitute Marc Griffin flicked a header narrowly wide from Burns’s cross in the 79th minute for Glenavon, while McCauley cut inside from the left and saw his effort from distance strike the top of the crossbar, although Tuffey appeared to have it covered.
Five minutes from time Griffin had an effort on goal which was deflected and found its way to Mitchell, but a combination of the bog-like goalmouth and being crowded out by Coleraine defenders meant Glenavon’s top scorer couldn’t turn the ball into the net.
Two minutes from time Sykes was shown a straight red card for a lunging tackle on Bradley, and the game finished 1 – 1.
Tuesday night (February 13th) sees Glenavon travel to the Bangor Fuels Arena to take on Ards (kick-off 7.45pm). Supporters are reminded that entry to this game will be free, as it is the rearrangement of the match which was abandoned on Tuesday January 2nd due to high winds. Glenavon were, of course, leading that game 2 – 0 thanks to two Joel Cooper goals before it was called off.
The Lurgan Blues were due to host league leaders Crusaders next Friday night (February 16th), but that game has had to be postponed due to Crusaders’ Irn Bru Cup semi-final tie against Inverness Caldeonian Thistle.
Coleraine: 1. Chris Johns, 2. Lyndon Kane, 4. Ciaron Harkin, 7. Darren McCauley, 8. Martin Smith, 10. Eoin Bradley, 11. Josh Carson, 13. Gareth McConaghie, 15. Stephen O’Donnell (C), 18. Aaron Traynor, 19. Jamie McGonigle
Subs: 16. Ian Parkhill (for 11. Josh Carson, 89 mins); not used: 3. Adam Mullan, 5. Steven Douglas, 6. David Ogilby, 20. Michael Doherty
Goals: 10. Eoin Bradley (60 mins)
Yellow Cards: 7. Darren McCauley (45 mins), 8. Martin Smith (68 mins)
Glenavon: 1. Jonny Tuffey (C), 3. Bobby Burns, 8. Rhys Marshall, 9. Andrew Mitchell, 11. Andrew Hall, 14. Mark Sykes, 15. Caolan Marron, 16. Sammy Clingan, 23. Joel Cooper, 24. Stephen Murray, 27. James Singleton
Subs: 10. Marc Griffin (for 11. Andrew Hall, 71 mins), 5. Andrew Doyle (for 27. James Singleton, 77 mins), 22. Robbie Norton (for 9. Andrew Mitchell, 87 mins); not used: 6. Eric Foley, 17. Andy McGrory
Goals: 11. Andrew Hall (53 mins)
Yellow Cards: 15. Caolan Marron (42 mins), 1. Jonathan Tuffey (42 mins), 16. Sammy Clingan (88 mins)
Red Cards: 14. Mark Sykes (88 mins)
Referee: Ian McNabb