Result: Carrick Rgrs 0-0 Glenavon

Photo gallery by Maynard Collins

Three changes to the Glenavon starting lineup as Gary Hamilton looks to maintain a push on two fronts and no doubt he has one eye on next week’s Irish Cup Quarter Final. Mark Sykes, a scoring substitute in last week’s win against Ballinamallard, is in from the start and he’s joined in the starting lineup by Andy Kilmartin and Renato de Vecchi. Andrew Hall, Ciaran Martyn and Dave Elebert are omitted today.

Aaron Callaghan has five changes from Saturday’s League Cup Final, mostly enforced due to injuries.

Glenavon started the game with real intensity and created early chances for Sykes, Cooper and Bates. Bates was unlucky when his first effort was blocked in the 6 yard box and his follow up would surely have crossed the line with Neeson stranded had it not got stuck in the muddy goalmouth.

In the 36th minute Neeson made a smart save at his near post to keep out a shot by Greg Moorhouse but he was relieved three minutes later when a cross-shot by James Singleton whistled past his post.

Cooper then tested the Rangers keeper with a low shot across his area with the rebound not falling kindly for the Glenavon strike force.

Despite all of Glenavon’s pressure Rangers could have scored with their only chance of the first half in the 41st minute when the referee played an advantage when TJ Murray was fouled as he played the ball through and it took an excellent save by Johnny Tuffey to deny Tommy Elder from 14 yards.

Steven McCullough’s 51st minute dangerous free kick was touched over for a corner by Tuffey and six minutes later Elder scooped over from 10 yards.

In the 69th minute Sykes did well to keep the ball in on the Rangers byeline and fire over a low cross that Moorhouse attempted to flick in from a yard out but didn’t get enough on it.

Three minutes later a well-struck 25 yard free kick by Bates had Neeson scrambling across his line but the ball flew just wide of his right hand post.

With 15 minutes left on the clock Marshall broke down the right wing and crossed to the middle where the ball was just inches too far in front of Bates but Cooper collected the ball on the left and tested Neeson with a shot that he parried at his near post.

As Glenavon piled on the pressure in the final minutes and the hosts got everyone behind the ball Mark Clarke got a vital touch to nick the ball off Gary Hamilton’s toe and Cooper and Marshall had a succession of shots blocked by McNally and Taggart.

Carrick: Neeson, Foster (Smyth 48), McNally, McCullough, Taggart (c), Clarke, TJ Murray, Noble, McConnell (Salley 82), Elder (Mustapha 68), McVey. Subs: M Murray, Smyth, Morrow, Salley, Mustapha

Glenavon: Tuffey (c), Marshall, Canning, Marron, Singleton, Renato (Hamilton 80), Sykes, Kilmartin, Cooper, Moorhouse, Bates (Gray 86). Subs: Hamilton, Neill, Lindsay, McGrory, Gray

Referee: Andrew Davey

Preview: Carrick Rangers v Glenavon

After a very good performance and 3-0 home win against Ballinamallard last Friday night, Gary Hamilton takes his team to the Loughshore Arena for a Danske Bank fixture against Carrick Rangers looking to build on that result with the split just four games away. Last week’s win saw the Lurgan Blues open up a six point gap on 7th placed Dungannon Swifts and also close the gap to 5th placed Ballymena United to four points, albeit the Sky Blues have a game in hand.

With the Irish Cup Quarter Final against Portadown just a week away, Gary used Thursday night’s friendly against Banbridge Town to give the players who are returning from injury some game time so he hopefully will have a full squad to choose from for the next few vital games as he aims to progress in the Cup and make a push for as high a league position as possible. “Every game with them has been difficult,” Gary stressed. “Aaron has come in and got them to a final and he’s definitely made a big improvement with Carrick. He’s brought in a lot of players, he’s obviously been given more money than Keiran Harding was given and he seems to have added a lot more to the squad. He’s got them playing counterattacking football and he’s got them getting results.

“Even in the first game, when Keiran was manager, it was never a 4-0 score-line. They gave us a really difficult game that day but we just scored at the right times. When we went down to Carrick it was probably our best performance but it ended in a 0-0 draw. We absolutely battered them but we didn’t score and then they come to Mourneview in the League Cup semi and as much as we had possession of the ball, it’s all about scoring goals as that’s what wins games of football. They did that scoring their chance when it came along and we didn’t take any of our chances that night as well.

“They’re a difficult outfit to play against and we have to make sure our attitude is right tomorrow and hopefully we can go down and get a result. Our aim has to be to finish as high up the league as possible and the only way we can do that is by winning games of football.”

New signing Chris Turner will not be able to play tomorrow after his FIFA clearance failed to come through in time despite Cowdenbeath, Glenavon, the IFA and SFA all having the paperwork submitted in time. He’s also not eligible for the Irish Cup as he signed after the January transfer window.

Carrick Rangers manager Aaron Callaghan made 10 signings in the transfer window and he’s looking for his new squad to gel quickly and overcome the disappointment of losing in Saturday’s League Cup Final to put a run together between now and the end of the season.

Match Officials

TBC

Result: Glenavon 3-0 Ballinamallard Utd.

Four changes to the Glenavon starting lineup: Guy Bates for James Gray, Ciaran Martyn for Mark Sykes, Joel Cooper for Mark Patton and Andy Hall for Renato de Vecchi.

Glenavon took the lead in the 13th minute when the Mallards defence failed to deal with the danger after Greg Moorhouse’s shot rebounded off left back Colm McLaughlin and, in trying to clear the ball, Stuart Hutchinson inadvertently gave it straight to Andy Hall and he smashed it past Richard Brush from 12 yards.

Photo by Maynard Collins

In the 20th minute Mallard’s skipper James McKenna body-checked Greg Moorhouse and injured himself in the process. He was replaced by Ryan Morris, but not before being shown a yellow card for the foul. (We’ve been informed after the match that James McKenna was taken to Craigavon Hospital with a broken collar bone so best wishes to him for a speedy recovery).

Bates’ cheeky back heel on the right touch line released Rhys Marshall and he fired a low cross-shot into the six yard box which Brush saved at the feet of Moorhouse.

Bates then took the ball past Steve Feeney and squared a pass across the area for Hall but it was cut out by a last-ditch intervention by a defender.

Photo by Alan Weir

With the score at 1-0 Johnny Tuffey was called upon to make a superb save to keep out a header by Steve Feeney from a 75th minute corner by substitute Niall Owens.

Photo by Maynard Collins

Mark Sykes doubled the lead five minutes from time after Ciaran Martyn unselfishly squared the ball to leave him with a tap in after Brush could only parry a fierce shot by Moorhouse.

The striker scored the goal of the night in stoppage time to make it 3-0, racing clear down the right onto a ball from Guy Bates, before outpacing Jay McCartney and slotting a shot under the Mallard’s keeper.

Bates was impressive throughout, showing all his tricks as he made his 100th start for Glenavon.

Gary Hamilton will be pleased with the all-round performance, with every player working hard and his team getting the goals and result that their efforts deserved.

Photo by Maynard Collins

Photo by Alan Weir

Goals: Hall 13, Sykes 85, Moorhouse 90+1

Glenavon: Tuffey (c), Canning, Elebert, Marron, Singleton, Hall, Marshall, Martyn, Cooper, Bates, Moorhouse Subs: Kilmartin, Sykes (Cooper 79), Gray, Renato, Hamilton (Hall 84)

Ballinamallard: Brush, Hutchinson, McKenna (c), Feeney, McLaughlin, Mayse, Lafferty, McGinty, McCartney, McIlwaine, Elliott. Subs: Taheny, Owens (Elliott 64), Morris (McKenna 20), Curran (Mayse 46), McGrath (GK)

Aaron Canning won the Man of the Match award. Photo by Alan Weir

Preview: Glenavon v Ballinamallard United (Fri)

Friday night football is back at Mourneview Park in Glenavon’s only home game in February as Ballinamallard United come to Lurgan for Match 29 in the Danske Bank Premiership.

On their last visit to Mourneview the Mallards went away with a win after Adam Lecky scored a late, late penalty to grab all three points and in the recent fixture at Ferney Park it took a late equaliser by Glenavon player-manager Gary Hamilton to secure a point for the Lurgan Blues.

Ballinamallard’s Adam Lecky scores from the penalty spot in the last game at Mourneview Park. Photo Alan Weir

Lecky, the Mallard’s leading goal scorer, has since moved to Australia but Ryan Mayse has stepped up to the mark and has six goals to his name, including last week’s winner against Cliftonville.

With five games, including Friday’s match, remaining until the league splits and an Irish Cup Quarter Final with Portadown to look forward to, Gary Hamilton is aiming to “try and win as many of the next six games as we can, to finish as high in the league as we can and make the Irish Cup semi-final. Over the past few seasons we’ve done well in cup competitions and if we can finish in the top six that is like another cup competition with a place in Europe at stake.”

“The number of draws this season has been a big factor but they’ve been by fine margins so hopefully the addition of Andrew Mitchell next season will see us turning those draws into wins.

“We need to be positive and play with less fear. We’ve analyzed everything this season and we’ve given all the teams in the top six hard games. Against the teams in the bottom six sometimes it looks like, because we’re expected to win, that the players are playing with fear and that’s something we’re working hard to put right.

“Ballinamallard have pace in attack and they can hurt you on the counter. I never thought they were in any danger of finishing in the relegation places as they are a decent side so it’s no surprise to me that they are on a good run of form at the minute.

“They beat us here in September but we had enough chances that day to win three games but we couldn’t take them and kill them off. It won’t be easy tomorrow night but I’m hoping we put in the sort of performance that is long overdue and we’ll get the three points.”

Reminder: Tickets for our Irish Cup QF with Portadown will be on sale in the Bedeck Sports Bar from 6:45pm ahead of tomorrow’s match. Payments by Cash or Cheque only.

Match Officials

Referee Assistant 1 Assistant 2 4th Official
Steven Gregg  Adam Jeffrey  Bogdan Sfirloaga  Paul Burns 

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Result: Glentoran 0-0 Glenavon

Action from The Oval by Maynard Collins.

Gary Hamilton keeps faith with the line-up that started last week’s Irish Cup game at Armagh City.

Glenavon almost got off to the ideal start after just three minutes when Rhys Marshall played the ball out to Renato and he skipped past a challenge before playing the ball into the feet of James Gray. He laid it off to Greg Moorhouse who saw his rising shot rebound off the underside of the bar.

In the 28th minute a cross from the right by Aaron Canning broke for Renato and his turn and shot was blocked by Jay Magee.

A minute later the hosts went close when Curtis Allen’s front post header from a Chris Lavery corner rebounded off the other post.

Great save by Elliott Morris to tip Ciaran Martyn’s point blank header over the bar from a left wing cross by Rhys Marshall with 77 minutes on the clock.

With two minutes remaining Johnny Tuffey made a superb save, rushing out and spreading himself to block a shot by Stephen Gordon after a high ball had been held up in the strong wind and dropped kindly for the Glens midfielder.

Mark Sykes caught everybody napping with a 90th minute free kick from the left edge of the Glens box as he lifted it over the head of Morris only to see it come back off the bar.

The game ended in the 3rd draw between these sides this season as the strong wind played a big part in reducing the quality of the match but Glenavon always looked the more likely to take the three points.

Glentoran: Morris, Ferrin, Magee, Addis, Redman, Gordon, McAlorum, Kane, Lavery, Smith, Allen. Subs: Novo, Foley, Nelson (GK), Harmon (Smith 66), Caldwell

Glenavon: Tuffey (c), Canning, Marron, Elebert, Singleton, Renato, Sykes, Marshall, Patton, Moorhouse, Gray. Subs: Lindsay, Kilmartin, Cooper (Patton 56), Martyn (Renato 68), Bates (Gray 68).

Referee: Raymond Hetherington