Result: Glenavon 0-1 Crusaders

Ian Morris gets his first stat for Glenavon after making his debut last week as a subsitute at Solitude. A defensive injury crisis has left Gary Hamilton with limited options. Morris has slotted in at left back with Rhys Marshall reverting to the right back position.

It’s looking like another open game between these two sides. Eoin Bradley had the first chance after Kevin Braniff played a ball over the top for Andy Hall and he picked out the striker with a pass across the box. Bradley let loose with a right foot shot that Sean O’Neill parried, Braniff firing the rebound just wide from 25 yards.

On 17 minutes following a long BJ Burns throw in Jordan Owens lifted a shot over the bar from 10 yards after Paul Heatley’s miskick fell kindly for the big striker. A minute later Hall’s cross was just in too far in front of Joel Cooper as he slid in at the far post.

In the 28th minute Cooper raced down the centre with the ball with Braniff to his left and Bradley to his right. He rolled the ball to the right and Bradley unleashed another right foot shot which O’Neill saved with his boot, the ball spinning out for a corner.

Morris lasted only 33 minutes on his MVP debut before limping off to be replaced by Mark Patton at left back.

Owens found himself free about 8 yards out when he powered in a header from a Gavin Whyte free kick in the 56th minute.

Bradley had another chance in the 62nd minute when he exchanged passes with Cooper but pressure from two defenders ended with his shot from 14 yards ending up going out for a goal kick.

The big Crusaders striker hit the post with a shot in the 80th minute and Jonny Tuffey made a super save to turn Whytre’s shot round the post after Forsythe had set him up two minutes later.

Three minutes from the end Braniff volleyed a weak clearance from a long Conor Dillon throw into the Crues box only to see it rebound off the chest of O’Neill, the ball not falling for the in rushing Cooper.

In stoppage time Declan O’Brien rose at the far post to head a Braniff cross back across the goal but it went narrowly wide of the foot of the post.

Glenavon: Tuffey, Marshall, Dillon, Lindsay, Morris, Hall, Kiilmartin, Martyn (c), Cooper, Braniff, Bradley. Subs: Patton, O’Brien, Hamilton, Delaney, McGrath (GK)

Crusaders: O’Neill, Burns, Magowan, Coates (c), McClean, Whyte, Snoddy, Caddell, Mitchell, Heatley, Owens. Subs: McKibbin (GK), Clarke, Carvill, O’Carroll, Forsythe

Preview: Glenavon v Crusaders

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The big games keep on coming as Crusaders visit Mourneview Park tomorrow (kick off 3pm) for a Dankse Bank Premiership game that could clinch a second successive league title for the Seaview men. If the Crues were to win and Linfield fail to beat Coleraine then the title race would be over but Glenavon still have plenty to play for. If the Lurgan Blues beat the league leaders tomorrow and Cliftonville fail to defeat Glentoran at Solitude then Gary Hamilton’s team would regain that precious 3rd place that they surrendered to the Reds last Saturday.

“As I said a few weeks back, every game until the end of the season is a big game and tomorrow is no exception but we go into it with only three fit defenders” Gary explained when we spoke to him on Friday afternoon. “David Elebert (hamstring), Andy McGrory (back) and Simon Kelly (achilles) are all out tomorrow. Three weeks ago we only had one fit striker available now its the reverse. I would love to have a full panel to choose from with players vying for a Cup Final place but the last month or two has taken its toll.

“We haven’t been able to rest players due to injuries to others and as a result they’ve picked up injuries themselves but we just have to battle on and keep trying to win every game.”

Match Officials

Referee Assistant 1 Assistant 2 4th Official
Ian McNabb Stephen Bell David Anderson Tim Marshall

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Result: Cliftonville 3-1 Glenavon

Cliftonville keep the same starting lineup from Tuesday’s victory over Carrick Rangers.

For Glenavon Eoin Bradley makes his long awaited return from suspension but Joel Cooper is out with a chest infection so Mark Patton gets a rare start.

A rare off day for Glenavon. Following a tense and fairly uneventful first half, Cliftonville took control of the game with two goals inside the first 15 minutes of the second half. Glenavon pulled a late goal back with Simon Kelly scoring his first Glenavon goal but, as the Lurgan Blues went in search of an equaliser, Jay Donnelly made the points safe with a third goal for the Reds in stoppage time.

Not much to write home about in the first half which finished scoreless.

Conor Dillon is having a storming game at the back and he had to make a great interception in the third minute as it looked like Darren Murray would get on the end of a cross from Daniel Hughes.

Andy Kilmartin has also made a couple of vital tackles, denying Jay Donnelly a chance to shoot in the 24th minute. Murray did get a shot on target a minute later but it was an easy save for Johnny Tuffey.

Patton saw his 36th minute shot deflected over for a corner before Kilmartin again got a foot in to clear as Hughes attempted to turn and shoot in the box.

Two goals in ten second half minutes have given the home side the lead. On 48 minutes Murray headed home from 8 yards after Stephen Garrett headed a deep cross by Hughes back in as Tuffey was claiming the cross had gone out of play.

Jude Winchester doubled the Reds lead when he drilled a low shot from the corner of the box into the bottom corner.

Bradley scooped a shot over the bar in the 86th minute as he turned in the box and Gary Hamilton thought he had scored seconds later when he headed David Elebert’s flick on but Peter Burke clawed the ball away for a corner. Simon Kelly scored with an 87th minute header from the resulting  corner by Hamilton to give Glenavon late hope but Donnelly sealed the points in stoppage time for Cliftonville when he was played in by substitute David McDaid.

Cliftonville: Burke, Brennan, Flynn, Smyth, Ives, Garrett, Winchester (Catney 83), McMullan (c), J Donnelly, Hughes (McDaid 89), Murray (Curran 71). Subs not used: Bonner, Lavery

Glenavon: Tuffey, McGrory, Kelly, Dillon, Marshall, Hall (Hamilton 68), Kilmartin (Morris 69), Martyn (c) (Elebert 83), Patton, Braniff, Bradley. Subs not used: Lindsay, McGrath (GK)

Referee Raymond Crangle

Preview: Cliftonville v Glenavon

danske-logoDue to a serious accident on the M1 between Lurgan and Moira on Friday evening, the motorway has been closed between J10 (Lurgan) and J9 (Moira) and remains closed as of 00:50. Supporters would be well advised to check road conditions with the AA Roadwatch before heading to Solitude on Saturday.

On a day when there are big games throughout the Danske Bank Premiership from top to bottom, Glenavon travels to Solitude tomorrow for what could be one of the most important games of the season so far for both clubs. The Reds are just two points behind the Lurgan Blues who currently hold that coveted 3rd place and the hopes of European qualification that go with it. A win for either side could prove to be very significant as the league moves into its final few weeks.

Gary Hamilton knows his side will have to be on their game tomorrow against a Cliftonville side that is showing signs of returning to form. “It’s a big game but every game from now to the end of the season is a big game. Whatever the result tomorrow, a lot can still happen in the upcoming games so it won’t settle anything. Obviously if one of us wins it’s three points that the other won’t get but there’s tough games ahead for both sides.

“We’re going there to try to win as we do in every game. We’ll be playing the football we have been playing, trying to press them high up the pitch and try to score more goals. We’re certainly not going to play for a draw as that just encourages pressure onto you from the other side.”

Declan O’Brien felt his hamstring tighten in the warmup ahead of Tuesday night’s match with Ballymena United which meant he missed that game and will not be risked for tomorrow but Eoin Bradley, who scored a hat-trick in the 3-3 draw the last time the sides met, has completed his six game suspension and will be available for selection. Defender Simon Kelly has declared himself fit but Joel Cooper has been suffering from a throat and chest infection this week so Ian Morris may be drafted into the squad in case the young winger doesn’t make it.

Eoin Bradley returns from suspension. Photo by Alan Weir.

Eoin Bradley returns from suspension. Photo by Alan Weir.

“Fabio is out. He hasn’t had enough recovery time for his hamstring. It’s unfortunate for him because, after his performance against Crusaders in the semifinal, he would have kept his place but the chance has come for Eoin to come straight back in and I’m sure he’s raring to go,”  the Glenavon manager said.

Bus Times

@Victoria_GSC leaving MVP at 1.30pm
@TriangleGSC leaves MVP at 1.30pm and Moira at 1.45pm.
@so2014_gsc leaves the Bedeck at 1.15pm.

Supporters are asked to please take note of the information and advice we have received from the PSNI.

Match Officials

Referee Assistant 1 Assistant 2 4th Official
Raymond Crangle Gareth Eakin Mark O’Brien Steven Gregg

Result: Glenavon 1-1 Ballymena Utd.

Mark Sykes starts up front with Kevin Braniff. Declan O’Brien picked up an injury during the warmup so Simon Kelly replaced him on the bench with Kris Lindsay as Gary Hamilton found his options severely limited.

Mark Sykes played up front. Photo by Alan Weir.

Mark Sykes played up front. Photo by Alan Weir.

Glenavon dominated the opening exchanges but Ballymena went ahead against the run of play in the 32nd minute from their first corner of the game. David Cushley rolled the corner back to an unmarked Tony Kane and his cross glanced off a couple of heads before dropping to Johnny Taylor who side-footed the ball in from six yards.

The home side had the ball in the net five minutes earlier after Alan Blayney dropped a cross but the Referee generously awarded a free kick out.

Joel Cooper gets a shot on target. Photo by Alan Weir.

Joel Cooper gets a shot on target. Photo by Alan Weir.

Glenavon levelled in the first minute of the second half when Ciaran Martyn stabbed home from close range after Blayney could only parry David Elebert’s close range header from a corner from Joel Cooper.

Ciaran Martyn celebrates after scoring the equaliser. Photo by Alan Weir.

Ciaran Martyn celebrates after scoring the equaliser. Photo by Alan Weir.

Supporters and players were left wondering in the final minute how Glenavon didn’t manage to get the ball in the net following a disputed corner. Cooper sent it over and after the ball was only cleared back to the winger it was pumped back in again and somehow scrambled off the line. Martyn stabbed it goal wards but it hit the post and then rebounded off Blayney before eventually being cleared.

David Elebert clears the danger. Photo by Alan Weir.

David Elebert clears the danger. Photo by Alan Weir.

On a night when Gary Hamillton was without the services of three strikers including himself, Eoin Bradley and Declan O’Brien not to mention Daniel Kearns, a point is no doubt welcome at the end of the day.

Glenavon: Tuffey, McGrory, Dillon, Elebert, Marshall, Hall, Martyn, Kilmartin, Cooper, Sykes, Braniff. Subs: Lindsay (Hall 87), Patton (Sykes 74), Kelly, Marron, McGrath.

Ballymena Utd: Blayney, Kane, McBride, McVey, Taylor, Jenkins, Thompson, Faulkner, Ervin (C), Frazer, Cushley. Subs: Nelson, McNally, Henderson (Frazer 65), Ruddy, Hanley

Referee: Keith Kennedy