Greg Moorhouse won the January Player of the Month, scoring a fantastic hat-trick in the win away to Ballymena and scoring in the 2-1 win against Portadown at Shamrock Park.
Correction to this post. This presentation was for the January Player of the Month, not February as previously stated.
Glenavon will play Championship side Knockbreda in a friendly at Mourneview Park on Tuesday night, kick off 7:30pm. Admission is free.
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
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.