Result: Crusaders 6-1 Glenavon

Six changes to the starting line-up for Glenavon as Kyle Neill, named as Captain for today, starts would could be his last league match for the Lurgan Blues.

Photo by Maynard Collins

James Taylor, Kris Lindsay, Joel Cooper, Caolan Marron, Greg Moorhouse and Robbie Norton are in from the start.

06: 1-0 Gavin Whyte runs onto Gavin Whyte’s flick-on and angles a shot into the bottom corner giving James Taylor no chance.

27: 2-0 Whyte turns provider as he cuts a ball back from the bye-line and Paul Heatley tucks the ball away at the near post.

38: 3-0 Heatley showed a great touch to instantly control a long, high punt down the middle and steers the ball beyond a stranded Taylor

44: 4-0 Carvill grabs his second of the game, again a great touch allowed him to control a ball into the box by Owens and lift it over Taylor.

58: 4-1 What a strike by Robbie Norton! From 30 yards his strike into the top corner gave Sean O’Neill no chance.

Photo by Maynard Collins

78: 5-1 Jordan Owens gets on the scoresheet with a curler from the edge of the box. In the build-up Caolan Marron picked up a bad knock just after Gary Hamilton had used his final two subsitutes. The young defender has had to go off leaving Glenavon to finish the game with ten men.

90+4: 6-1 Crues sub Matthew Snoddy taps in from six yards after Taylor palms a low cross into his path.

Seconds after Andy Hall headed over the Crues bar from a Joel Cooper cross Michael Carvill latched onto a flick-on by Gavin Whyte and angled a low shot across Taylor into the bottom corner.

Jordan Owens squandered several chances to extend the Crues lead and Paul Heatley was only inches wide with a low 25th minute  shot as Andrew Mitchell cut out a cross-field pass from Jenkins and raced forward before slipping in Heatley.

Two minutes later Heatley made no mistake when he nipped in at the near post to tuck away a cut-back from the bye-line by Whyte.

Heatley grabbed his second in the 38th minute and Carvill joined the double party a minute before half-time.

As news filtered in from Solitude that Linfield had come back to take a 2-1 lead, Robbie Norton picked up the ball 30 yards out and unleashed a superb drive into the top corner that left O’Neill grasping thin air.

Crusaders: O’Neill (c), Burns, Beverland, McClean, Carvill, Caddell, Mitchell, Forsythe, Whyte,Heatley, Owens. Subs: Cushley, Dougherty (GK), Snoddy, Keane, Suarez

Glenavon: Taylor, McGrory, Lindsay, Marron, Neill (c), Hall, Kilmartin, Norton, Cooper,Moorhouse, Jenkins. Subs: Marshall, Young, Canning, Singleton, Gray

Referee: Andrew Davey

 

Preview: Crusaders v Glenavon

Supporter Information: For today’s game Glenavon supporters will be accommodated in the Shore Road stand and should enter via the Shore Road turnstiles.

Gary Hamilton’s team selection for the final league game of the season at Seaview against Crusaders tomorrow is once again restricted by injuries, suspensions and potential bans. Rhys Marshall is available after completing a two-game ban but Simon Kelly and Andrew Doyle are both banned for this game having picked up their 5th cautions recently. Chris Turner is out with hamstring strain but Aaron Canning (back) and Joel Cooper (calf) should be available for selection.

“We’ll put out the strongest team we can bearing in mind who’s available and as we try to give the players as many minutes as possible on the pitch in preparation for the playoffs,” Gary told us. “Aaron has had back problems which recurred against Linfield and the 4G pitch could put extra strain on him so he may have limited minutes tomorrow.”

Gary himself has been absent from the playing squad since picking up a stress fracture of the back while playing in the Reserves. “That’s frustrating for me as, ironically, I was playing to get fit for the play-offs but I won’t be able to play again this season.”

Kyle Neill

‘That goal’ hits the back of the net. Photo by Alan Weir

What a servant Kyle Neill has been, not just to Glenavon Football Club, but to Irish League football in general. And who will ever forget that goal ‘Kyler’ scored in the 2014 Irish Cup Final that saw Glenavon win the coveted trophy for the first time since 1997?

Kyle Neill is carried off after picking up a suspected cartilage injury to his left knee. Photo by Alan Weir

Last week at Solitude Kyle was arguably the best player on the pitch, belying the fact that he’s 39 years old and has had to fight his way back to fitness after an operation to repair a serious knee ligament injury he picked up on Boxing Day 2015.

If he starts tomorrow’s game it will be his 198th start for the Lurgan Blues and, with 30 substitute appearances and 24 goals and who knows how many assists to his credit, he’ll be a hard act to follow.

“We’ve had a chat and Kyle told me he feels this is going to be his last year at this level. He said he’d like to stay on but he’s a realist and, while you never ever rule anything out in life, in his opinion this is his last year and tomorrow could possibly be his last league game,” Gary explained. “He’s had a wonderful career and an unbelievable time at Glenavon. He’s been there since I started until now; he’s played a part in one Irish Cup success and getting to Europe a couple of times. He’s been a big player for the club and unfortunately for him he got the cruciate injury when he was on a good run of form which set him back for the start of this season and then he picked up a few wee niggles this year which sometimes happens when you’re coming back from serious injury.

“Obviously he’s a close friend of mine but regardless of that and never mind his ability and everything else that he had, he was somebody you could rely on and somebody who, once he crossed that white line, gave whatever club he played for everything he had.

“I thought last Saturday just typified him; he came in for Joel, not having played for a long, long time, on a 3G pitch which he obviously doesn’t like playing on, and to put in the shift and the performance that he did, just spoke volumes about the type of person and the type of player he’s been whichever Club he’s played for.”

The last time Glenavon won at Seaview was in October 2014 when Gary’s side ran out 4-1 winners. The key to that win was swift counter-attacking football by Glenavon and that may be a feature tomorrow as Crusaders must go all-out for the win to have any hope of retaining their League title for a third consecutive season.

Match Officials

Referee Assistant 1 Assistant 2 4th Official
Andrew Davey  George Argyropoulos  Ken Ross  Steven Gregg 

 

Europa League Play-offs

The Europa League Play-Offs have been scheduled as follows:

Semi Finals, Monday, 8 May 2017

1. 4th placed club v 7th placed club
2. 5th placed club v 6th placed club

Final, Friday, 12 May 2017

Winner of Semi Final 1 v Winner of Semi Final 2

Note: The higher ranked club will have home advantage in the final.

Licences Granted

We have been informed by the Irish Football Association that the club has been granted Premiership and UEFA Club Licences for the forthcoming season. Many thanks to all those who were involved in the application process.