Preview: Glenavon v Cliftonville (Fri)

After conceding just three league goals at Solitude until the 4-0 Boxing Day defeat by the Champions and league leaders Crusaders, Reds manager Gerard Lyttle will be looking to bounce back when he brings his side to Mourneview on Friday night (kick off 7:45pm). That defeat brought to an end a run of six straight league wins including victories against Linfield and Ballymena United so Gary Hamilton is expecting another tough match.

“Obviously it’s a difficult tie, Cliftonville are a decent side and coming off a 4-0 defeat which they’ll be hurting over especially as its against one of their nearest rivals and Gerard will be looking for a reaction it’s probably one of the worst times to meet a Cliftonville side. It’s always bad when you meet a side after a defeat which they’re hurting over” Gary told us today.

“Cliftonville have showed us in every game this season that they’re one of the top sides, even though we managed to beat them in the league earlier on this season at home and got a win over them in the Cup in extra time. Down there it was a good tight solid match and the game changed in a couple of minutes when they scored two goals. They’ve all been good, tight affairs, good entertaining games and I’m expecting the same tomorrow night.”

“We’ll need to get in their faces and stop them playing. They’re a tidy football team, they keep the ball well and move it quickly and we have to stop them doing that and get on top of them. We have to use our physical advantage to full effect in terms of winning the ball back and make sure defensively we’re really good and pressing the ball all over the pitch and try to make them make mistakes in their own third because they do like to play through the thirds.

“I was pleased with the character the lads showed on Boxing Day. With the run of form we were having maybe the boys confidence had been hit a little bit. Where we were full of confidence last year, coming back from goals down and winning games and drawing games, sometimes when your confidence is low it’s harder to do that but, to be fair, against Portadown, they showed that character to come back and get a draw,” Gary concluded.

Transfer-listed Kevin Braniff is out with a groin strain he picked up at Shamrock Park and Greg Moorhouse is a doubt with a knee injury he picked up in a heavy challenge on Boxing Day that went unpunished. Kris Lindsay returns from his one game suspension but new signing James Gray is ineligible.

Match Officials

REFEREE ASSISTANT 1 ASSISTANT 2 4TH OFFICIAL
T Marshall G Eakin J McElholm T Clarke

Our Sponsors

Friday’s Match Sponsor is Tritex Core Company, a sister company of Angle Edge Protection based in Trim, County Meath, that has been manufacturing cardboard cores for over 22 years. The Ball Sponsor is supporter Gordon Gough and the Glenavon Man of the Match award is sponsored by a trio of fans Clifford Dennison, Paul Adamson and Ian Perry

Match Sponsor Ball Sponsor Man of the Match Sponsor
Tritex Cores  Gordon Gough  Clifford Dennison, Paul Adamson, Ian Perry

Boxing Day Photo Gallery

Many thanks to our photographers Alan Weir and Maynard Collins for capturing the action and the atmosphere of the Boxing Day derby.

Result: Portadown 2-2 Glenavon

Kick-off was delayed until 3:10pm due to the long queues at the turnstiles.

Photo by Alan Weir

Early bookings for Joel Cooper (2 mins) and Ciaran Martyn (4 mins).

Mark Patton has replaced Cooper in the 15th minute. Speaking to us after the match Gary Hamilton confirmed that, Cooper having committed another foul just after he was booked for a shirt pull, and the Glenavon bench having been warned by the 4th Official that he was on the verge of a second yellow, the coaching staff decided to replace him as a precaution.

Caolan Marron and Stephen Hughes battle for possession. Photo by Maynard Collins

In the 19th minute Alan Byrne was adjudged to have brought down Greg Moorhouse 22 yards out. Patton’s free kick deflected off the wall for a corner from which Moorhouse slipped but the ball broke to Mark Sykes who saw his shot deflected by Garrett for another corner which Portadown cleared.

Former Glenavon player Mark Carson put Portadown ahead in the 25th minute after he just got to a fabulous pass from Mark McAllister before Jonny Tuffey and tucked the ball just inside the post.

Guy Bates has had Glenavon’s best chances, glancing a cross from Rhys Marshall straight at McGaughey. The young Ports keeper made a much better save in the 34th minute when Bates picked up a ball into the box only to see McGaughey get down well at his near post.

Guy Bates curls and effort with his left boot. Photo by Maynard Collins

A minute before Brendan Shannon had dallied on the ball on his own byeline and Bates was able to block his attempted clearance. The ball spun to Moorhouse whose shot from a tight angle deflected across the goal mouth. Patton attempted to put it back across the goal but a defender blocked it for a corner.

Bates and Patton curled efforts but once again the ball went straight into the  keeper’s gloves.

Guy Bates shields the ball from Gary Breen. Photo by Alan Weir

Not the start to the second half Glenavon was hoping for as Aaron Haire ran onto a through ball from Stephen Hughes five minutes after the interval, held off Caolan Marron before slotting the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Ports substitute Nathaniel Ferris had a decent chance to make it 3-0 to the home side with his first touch but he poked the ball wide when well placed.

Glenavon had the ball in the net in the 76th minute but it was flagged for offside against Bates who had been found on the left by Sykes before crossing to the far post but a minute later Martyn headed in powerfully from an Andy McGrory cross to reduce the arrears.

Ciaran Martyn celebrates after scoring to make it 2-1. Photo by Alan Weir

McAllister spurned a good chance to restore the Ports two-goal cushion moments after Martyn’s goal but he fired wide from 8 yards.

Late, late drama as a Mark Sykes free kick from at least 25 yards found its way all the way to the net to send the visiting fans into raptures. There was still time for a Brendan Shannon free kick to rebound off the wall and release a Glenavon counter attack with four against two and Kevin Braniff’s effort across goal was flicked back in by Bates but the Reds were able to scramble the ball clear and Referee Crangle blew the final whistle.

Ports keeper Chris McGaughey dives in vain as Mark Sykes equaliser hits the back of the net. Photo by Alan Weir

Photo by Alan Weir

Teams

Portadown: McGaughey, Carson, Byrne, Breen, Parker, Henderson, Shannon, Garrett (c), McAllister, Haire, Hughes. Subs: C Larkin (GK), R Larkin, Wilson, N Ferris (Haire 75), C Ferris

Glenavon: Tuffey (c), Marshall, Marron, Elebert, Singleton, Hall, Martyn, Sykes, Cooper, Moorhouse, Bates. Subs: Neill, Kelly, Patton (Cooper 15), McGrory (Hall 77), Braniff (Moorhouse 63)

Referee: Raymond Crangle

Boxing Day Fast Approaching!

The most eagerly awaited match in the on-going history of Mid-Ulster football is just two days away now with a sell-out crowd heading to Shamrock Park on Boxing Day for the latest edition of the saga. Gary Hamilton will be hoping to change the amazing statistic that Portadown has not lost a Boxing Day derby at Shamrock Park since 1967!

“I’ve always said teams are dangerous when they get a new manager. Players are fighting for their places in the team, they’re fighting to stay at the club, so of course they’re going to lift it,” Gary told this website.

“We know, on paper, Portadown’s a decent team. They might have started the season on minus 12 points but they’ve got a lot of good players, in fact compared to the other bottom teams they’ve got as good a squad if not better than them all. We know they’re going to perform, we know they’re good players but we have to make sure that we turn up with that attitude that we did against Crusaders last weekend.

“If we do that and show the same energy levels then we’ve a chance of winning the game but it can’t go back to what it was against Carrick (in the League Cup semifinal), when we met a bottom side and maybe think it’s only a matter of turning up. Football doesn’t work like that. We’ve been stung already once and we don’t want to be stung again in the Boxing Day derby. We want to put in a good performance, get a good result for the fans and hopefully we can do that.”

A Kevin Braniff goal settled the last game 1-0 in favour of Glenavon back at the beginning of October at Mourneview Park.

It’s 1-0! Kevin Braniff scores the winner in the last encounter. Photo by Alan Weir.

In the last ten league meetings at Shamrock Park Portadown has won five, Glenavon has won one and the other four ended as draws. The last Boxing Day derby at Shamrock Park was in 2014 and ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw, the Lurgan Blues coming from behind three times for a hard-earned point. Eoin Bradley netted a last-gasp penalty to add to his first half equaliser. Ciaran Caldwell scored the other Glenavon goal with Mark McAllister bagging a double after Darren Murray had opened the scoring for the Ports.

Match Officials

Referee Assistant 1 Assistant 2 4th Official
Raymond Crangle Andrew Neeson Mark O’Brien Paul Burns

NIFL has produced a video that captures what Irish League supporters think of the Boxing Day games.

Result: Crusaders 3-1 Glenavon

Gary Hamilton rings the changes as he looks to freshen up his side. Greg Moorhouse and Guy Bates get the nod up front with Eoin Bradley, who hasn’t scored since his double in the 5-0 win against Ballymena United, having to settle for a place on the bench. In total the Glenavon manager makes six changes from Tuesday night’s league cup semi final defeat.

Just the start Glenavon didn’t want going behind after just 6 minutes. Cushley picking out Whyte with a neat pass and Declan Caddell with a close range finish from his low cross, despite Jonny Tuffey getting some sort of touch on it, he couldn’t keep it out.

Declan Caddell puts Crues 1-0 up despite the best efforts of Jonny Tuffey. Photo by Alan Weir.

The Lurgan Blues have their keeper to thank for not being further behind inside the first quarter, Tuffey pulling off two fantastic saves to deny Heatley.

Glenavon did carve out a couple of decent chances. McClean misjudged a clearance from Tuffey and Sean O’Neill rushed out of his area but Moorhouse got to the ball and tried to find the net from outside the right side of the box but his effort drifted wide.

On the half hour Bates and Sykes exchanged passes just outside the Crues box which released the young midfielder to run with the ball into the area but he blasted over the bar from six yards when he really should have been hitting the target.

The visitors got the start to the second half that they needed when Sykes split the Crues defence with a great ball to Mark Patton. He cut into the box from the left channel and coolly slotted the ball beyond O’Neill.

Mark Patton celebrates with Rhys Marshall after scoring to make it 1-1. Photo by Alan Weir.

Gavin Whyte restored the Crues lead in the 58th minute but it was all down to a great touch and layoff by Heatley, from a ball down the line by BJ Burns, to release his team-mate as he burst into the box.

Five minutes later it looked like a clear penalty to Glenavon when Moorhouse appeared to be tripped as he ran onto Bates flick on but instead the ref showed him a yellow card for simulation.

Greg Moorhouse appears to have his leg clipped by BJ Burns. Photo by Alan Weir.

Photo by Alan Weir.

Inside a minute Tuffey made another good save to push Heatley’s well-struck shot over the bar.

In the 72nd minute Bates laid the ball off to James Singleton and, from 30 yards, he saw his shot spilled by O’Neill who then hooked the ball away with his boot but the offside flag went up against the Glenavon player who had followed the ball in.

Bradley replaced Moorhouse in the 76th minute and four minutes later he almost got the equaliser when Patton and Bates linked up just outside the box and Bates fed Bradley but O’Neill pulled off a great save.

The Crues went 3-1 up in the 81st minute when Caddell raced onto a through ball and beat the offside line. Tuffey raced out to try to get to the ball first but Caddell skipped past his challenge, raced to the bye-line before laying the ball on a plate for Jordan Owens to tap in.

Bates must have thought he’s got on the score sheet five minutes from time when he headed the ball goal-wards after O’Neill had failed to clear Singleton’s cross but Owens blocked it on the goal line and BJ Burns hacked the ball clear.

Jordan Owens blocks Guy Bates header on the line. Did he use his arm? Photo by Alan Weir.

Crusaders: O’Neill (c), Burns, Beverland, Gault, McClean, Heatley, Caddell, Forsythe, Whyte, Owens, Cushley. Subs: Lowry (Forsythe 90+1), Mitchell, Carvill, Dougherty, Clarke (Cushley 84)

Glenavon: Tuffey, Marshall, Elebert, Lindsay, Neill, Hall, Patton, Sykes, Singleton, Bates, Moorhouse. Subs: Cooper (Neill 66), Bradley (Moorhouse 76), Marron, McGrory (Hall 81), O’Brien

Referee: Keith Kennedy