Glenavon 0 – 2 Cliftonville
Danske Bank Premiership
Mourneview Park, Saturday March 2nd 2019
Match Report by Calum Jones
Photos by Maynard Collins
Glenavon failed to build on an excellent second-half showing against Crusaders last Friday night as they put in a toothless performance on Saturday afternoon, losing 2 – 0 to Cliftonville at Mourneview Park.
Conor McMenamin finished off a goalmouth scramble by lashing the ball into the net to open the scoring in the 37th minute.
With Glenavon pressing for an equaliser in the second half, the visitors hit them on the break to double their lead and wrap up the three points when Joe Gormley pounced on an error by Seamus Sharkey to square the ball for Ryan Curran to tap in.
In the eighth minute, Cliftonville goalkeeper Richard Brush rushed off his line before mishitting a clearance which went directly to Stewart’s feet. The big striker’s shot from distance was poor, however, and was easily blocked by Garry Breen.
Stewart was involved again four minutes later when he fed the ball wide to Conor McCloskey on the right. The winger sent over a decent cross, but Andrew Mitchell didn’t time his jump right and failed to get his head to the ball.
A quarter of an hour in, Caolan Marron made a superb burst forward from defence and slid a through-ball to Josh Daniels. The Glenavon winger fizzed a low cross into the penalty area but failed to pick out a teammate.
Two minutes later, Cliftonville top scorer Gormley was allowed to come inside and shoot far too easily. His effort was deflected wide by the head of Sharkey.
On 20 minutes, good football from the home side released Mitchell on the left. The striker’s cross was crying out for a touch, but nobody in a blue shirt could get on the end of it.
Sharkey did well to prevent Gormley from getting a shot in on 22 minutes, but the ball broke kindly for Reds captain Chris Curran. The wide man beat James Singleton and fired in a low shot with his right foot which was heading for the far corner until Glenavon goalkeeper Jonathan Tuffey got a boot to it and turned it round the post.
McMenamin’s cross in the 27th minute picked out the head of Jamie Harney. The defender could only direct his header over the bar when he really should have hit the target.
On the half-hour mark, Chris Curran squared the ball to namesake Ryan on the edge of the Glenavon box, but the striker’s shot went well over the bar.
The visitors opened the scoring on 38 minutes. Chris Curran saw his left-footed shot saved by Tuffey. The ball then fell to Rory Donnelly, but his effort came back off Sharkey. Marron attempted to clear it while on the ground but he only succeeded in presenting it to McMenamin, who took full advantage, thrashing the ball into the net with his left foot to make it 1 – 0 to the Solitude side.
In the opening minute of the second period, the ball fell to Harney on the edge of the box following a Cliftonville corner. The defender flashed a shot wide with his left foot.
Mitchell teed up Robert Garrett to have a pop at goal in the 52nd minute, but the Glenavon midfielder blasted his shot over the bar.
Daniels shot from distance five minutes later, but Brush made a comfortable save, diving low to his right to gather the ball.
Tuffey had to make another smart save midway through the second half when Gormley turned inside Singleton after being fed the ball by substitute Levi Ives. Tuffey kept the striker’s low right-footed shot out with his boot.
Glenavon had the lion’s share of possession in the second period and were putting Cliftonville under pressure as they sought the equaliser, and they had strong appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Arnold Hunter 15 minutes from time when a cross from Daniels skipped up off the grass and struck the arm of McMenamin.
The Reds struck a killer blow just a minute later as they hit the Lurgan Blues on the counter-attack to grab their second goal. With the majority of the Glenavon players in the final third of the pitch, Cliftonville lumped a clearance up to halfway, where the isolated Sharkey attempted to snuff out the danger. However, the centre-back was dispossessed by Donnelly, whom he then proceeded to haul down. Hunter played the advantage as Gormley surged clear. He squared the ball for strike partner Ryan Curran, who had the simple task of tapping in from three yards out to make it 2 – 0.
A minute later, a Daniels corner fell to Stephen Murray, but the substitute’s left-foot volley went well over the bar as the home side tried in vain to get back into the game.
The visitors continued to threaten at the other end. Sharkey did well to get a tackle in on Gormley as the striker broke into the penalty area on 80 minutes, while Tuffey produced another good save to deny Gormley a minute later, diving down to his right to keep out the shot.
McMenamin came close to grabbing his second of the game when he cut inside from the left and shot. His effort was deflected narrowly wide of the far post.
Gormley saw one final effort flash narrowly over the bar in added time as Cliftonville comfortably saw the game out.
Tuesday night (March 5th) sees Glenavon travel to Stangmore Park to take on Warrenpoint Town in the final of the Mid-Ulster Cup (kick-off 7.45pm), before the Lurgan Blues return to league action on Friday night (March 8th), when they welcome leaders Linfield to Mourneview Park (kick-off 7.45pm) for a game which will be broadcast live on BBC Two NI.
Glenavon: 1. Jonathan Tuffey (GK) (C), 4. Caolan Marron, 7. Josh Daniels, 8. Rhys Marshall, 9. Andrew Mitchell, 20. Conor McCloskey 27. James Singleton, 28. Robert Garrett, 32. Cameron Stewart, 45. Eoin Wearen, 55. Seamus Sharkey
Subs: 24. Stephen Murray (for 32. Cameron Stewart, 52’), 80. Gary Hamilton (for 45. Eoin Wearen (72’), 11. Andrew Hall (for 9. Andrew Mitchell, 83’); not used: 15. Aaron Harmon, 19. Daniel Larmour, 22. Robbie Norton, 30. Jordan Jenkins
Yellow Cards: None
Cliftonville: 1. Richard Brush (GK), 4. Garry Breen, 6. Jamie Harney, 7. Chris Curran (C), 9. Ryan Curran, 11. Rory Donnelly, 15. Aaron Harkin, 16. Liam Bagnall, 19. Joe Gormley, 24. Conor McMenamin, 32. Joe Gorman
Subs: 3. Levi Ives (for 4. Garry Breen, 55’), 17. Ryan Catney (90+3’); not used: 13. Brian Neeson (GK), 18. Caoimhin McConnell, 23. Thomas Maguire, 25. Aaron Donnelly, 30. Donal Rocks
Goals: 24. Conor McMenamin (38’), 9. Ryan Curran (76’)
Yellow Cards: 7. Chris Curran (90’)
Referee: Arnold Hunter