A few enforced changes for Glenavon with Andy Kilmartin starting a two game ban and Kris Lindsay out after suffering from concussion when hit full in the face just before halftime in last week’s win at Warrenpoint Town.
Joel Cooper returns from his one game ban and David Elebert starts in place of Lindsay, Kevin Braniff is back after a bout of flu with Simon Kelly also back in the starting line-up and donning the captain’s armband.
This was a game lacking in quality and it took a stoppage time goal from player-manager Gary Hamilton to light up Mourneview Park and take the Lurgan Blues into 3rd place.
The match began to gain a little momentum with about 20 minutes to go. Substitute Mark Patton cut in from the left and slipped the ball to Braniff. He played it into the run of Andy Hall on the right side of the box and it took a good save with his legs by Mallards’ keeper Stefan McCusker to keep out the winger’s low shot. The keeper was quickly back on his feet in time to make another save to keep out a follow-up shot from Braniff.
A minute later it was home keeper Johnny Tuffey who was called into action. diving to his left to keep out a low shot from Ivan Sproule.
In the 82nd minute, five minutes after replacing Declan O’Brien, Hamilton and Braniff linked up and the manager fed the ball to Hall who was unlucky when his shot through the legs of McCusker got a slight touch that took it just wide of the post.
Mark Sykes then saw a rasping 25 yard drive just clip the top of the bar with four minutes remaining on the clock.
Finally, a minute into added time, a free kick from Hall dropped to Braniff in the box and, though his shot was blocked, the ball spun into the air and dropped perfectly for Hamilton to stab into the roof of the net from six yards.
Glenavon: Tuffey, McGrory, Kelly (c), Elebert, Marshall, Hall, Sykes, Dillon, Cooper (Patton 67), Braniff, O’Brien (Hamilton 77). Subs: Patton, Hamilton, Delaney, Marron, Burns
Ballinamallard United: McCusker, Morris, Elliott (Falconer 69), Dykes, Lecky, McCabe, McKenna (c), Beacom, O’Flynn, Campbell (Currie 76), Sproule. Subs: Mayse, Currie, Falconer, Smith, Brownlee
Cautions: McKenna (52), Lecky (80)
Referee: Ross Dunlop