Glenavon 1-1 Glentoran
Danske Bank Premiership
Mourneview Park, Friday 9th August 2019
Match Report by Calum Jones
Glenavon opened their season with a 1-1 draw at home to Glentoran on Friday night, despite playing for more than 50 minutes with 10 men after Rhys Marshall was dismissed for two bookable offences.
Darren Murray opened the scoring for Glentoran in the fourth minute, but Sammy Clingan drew Glenavon level just nine minutes later when his free-kick deflected off the wall and into the net.
Despite playing the entire second half with 10 men, the Lurgan Blues were well worth their point, defending resolutely as Glentoran rarely threatened them.
The first chance of the game fell to Glenavon’s Conor McCloskey, who was deployed as a striker by manager Gary Hamilton, but his shot went straight at Glens keeper Marijan Antolovic.
Just two minutes later the visitors took the lead. John Herron picked the ball up on the left flank and drove at the Glenavon defence, side-stepping the challenge of Andrew Doyle before playing a deft pass inside Seamus Sharkey with the outside of his right boot to find Murray. The striker waited for Jonny Tuffey to make his move, and when the Glenavon goalkeeper anticipated that the shot would be aimed at the far corner and shuffled to his left, Murray instead calmly struck it to the other side of Tuffey to make it 1-0.
The home side looked to respond quickly, and when they won a free-kick on the right just a minute later Andrew Hall whipped over a wicked cross that was crying out to be headed goalward. Jordan Jenkins was closest to it, but he just couldn’t get his head to the ball.
In the 12th minute it was Jenkins who won the free-kick that led to Glenavon’s equaliser. The young striker was simply too fast for the Glentoran defence and Calum Birney had no choice but to take him down as he hurtled towards goal. Referee Evan Boyce chose to show Birney a yellow card when many of the Mourneview faithful were calling for a red.
Clingan stepped up to strike the free-kick from 20 yards. His low right-foot shot brushed a Glentoran defender on its way through the wall and the deflection left Antolovic flat-footed and helpless as the ball found the net.
Jenkins was presented with a glorious chance to put Glenavon ahead in the 22nd minute. Hall did well to cushion a high ball down for Jenkins, who in turn laid it off to Robert Garrett. The midfielder played a lovely disguised pass to return the ball to Jenkins, sending the striker clean through on goal. His left-foot shot was powerfully struck and had Antolovic beaten all ends up, but unfortunately it cannoned back off the crossbar and the Glens were able to clear.
Marshall received his first yellow card on 22 minutes for a cynical foul on former Glenavon player Robbie McDaid, and when the Glenavon right-back lunged in recklessly on Joe Crowe in the 38th minute, referee Boyce had no option but to brandish the second yellow, followed by the compulsory red.
Glenavon supporters may well have expected a tough second half, with backs against the wall, desperately trying to cling on for a point, but that turned out to be far from the case. The Lurgan Blues were well set up in the second period and Glentoran really struggled to break them down.
On 50 minutes James Singleton sent a free-kick into the Glentoran penalty area from deep on the left. Sharkey got his head to it and forced Antolovic into a save, the big Croatian diving down to his left to save the ball at the near post.
Chances were few and far between as the half wore on. Thomas Byrne was impressive for the Glens, and he picked Murray out on the six-yard line from a free-kick on the right flank in the 67th minute, but the striker couldn’t direct his glancing volley on target.
The excellent Doyle, who was named Glenavon Man of the Match, made a vital interception on 74 minutes to deny Murray. The centre-back got his toe to the ball to divert it away just as Murray was poised to pull the trigger after the striker had controlled a ball into the box from Crowe.
Glenavon winger Jack O’Mahony looked lively after he was introduced as a substitute in the 73rd minute, his direct running causing problems for the Glentoran defence. One such run led to an opportunity for Josh Daniels, but he snatched at a half-volley and couldn’t trouble Antolovic.
The closest Glenavon came to finding a winner was when goalscorer Clingan hit a piledriver from 25 yards which went narrowly over the crossbar a minute from time.
In the end both sides had to settle for a point, and it’s probably fair to say that Hamilton and opposite number Mick McDermott were both happy enough with that outcome.
Next up for Glenavon is a trip to Solitude on Tuesday night (13th August) to take on Cliftonville (kick-off 7.45pm).
Glenavon: 1. Jonny Tuffey (GK) (C), 6. Andrew Doyle, 7. Josh Daniels, 8. Rhys Marshall, 11. Andy Hall, 16. Sammy Clingan, 20. Conor McCloskey, 27. James Singleton, 28. Robert Garrett, 30. Jordan Jenkins, 55. Seamus Sharkey
Subs: 24. Stephen Murray (for 30. Jordan Jenkins, 59’), 15. Aaron Harmon (for 11. Andrew Hall, 72’), 21. Jack O’Mahony (for 20. Conor McCloskey, 73’); not used: 3. Paddy Burns, 9. Andrew Mitchell, 14. Matthew Ferguson, 80. Gary Hamilton
Goals: 16. Sammy Clingan (13’)
Yellow Cards: 8. Rhys Marshall (22’, 38’), 16. Sammy Clingan (84)
Red Cards: 8. Rhys Marshall (38’)
Glentoran: 30. Marijan Antolovic (GK), 2. Willie Garrett, 4. Gavin Peers (C), 5. Calum Birney, 8. John Herron, 10. Darren Murray, 11. Robbie McDaid, 17. Thomas Byrne, 21. Joe Crowe, 23. Ross Redman, 27. Hrvoje Plum
Subs: 15. Patrick McClean (for 5. Calum Birney, 54’), 9. Curtis Allen (for 27. Hrvoje Plum, 61’), 26. Paul O’Neill, for 17. Thomas Byrne, 83’); not used: 1. Elliot Morris (GK), 6. Chris Gallagher, 7. Jonny Frazer, 20. Malachy Smith
Goals: 10. Darren Murray (4’)
Yellow Cards: 5. Calum Birney (12’), 2. Willie Garrett (55’), 21. Joe Crowe (76’), 8. John Herron (87’)
Referee: Evan Boyce