Glenavon secured their place in the Europa League thanks to a 1-0 win at The Oval on Saturday.

With Cliftonville losing at Linfield, it meant Kevin Braniff’s goal was enough to secure third place in the table with a game to spare.

Both teams stuggled to get going on a hard Oval surface and it was all rather scrappy for the opening quarter of an hour. There was a half chance for the visitors when following a long throw from Conor Dillon the ball eventually sat up for Ciaran Martyn but as he fell back his shot skied over the goal.

The Glens almost took the lead in spectacular fashion with Jay Magee hitting a volley inches over Jonny Tuffey’s goal on 18 minutes. Glenavon slowly began to come more into the game with long range efforts from Eoin Bradley and Kevin Braniff failing to test Elliott Morris.

A superb ball from Braniff caught the home defence cold and Andy Hall raced on, he opted to pick out Bradley in the centre but when the pass came it was cut out by defender.

Despite that missed opportunity the Lurgan Blues kept pressing with a Braniff kree kick just over and then a poor clearance by the Glens almost let in Martyn but he was closed down before he could direct a shot on goal.
Within minutes of the second half there was an early warning for Glenavon with Lavery getting into the box, the ball fell to Scullion who wasted the chance by heading wide.

Glenavon hit back with Bradley and Copper linking up well but with Martyn running into the box the final pass was blocked for a corner.

On 54 minutes Glenavon should have scored with Braniff almost on the line as he tried to get on to a delivery from Hall, but his effort looped up over the bar.

The goal Glenavon had been searching for finally came on 65 minutes and it came after a quick throw-in from Cooper found Braniff who, from an acute angle, drove a low shot under Morris and into the far corner of the net.
Hall almost doubled the lead on 77 minutes but his well struck shot was somehow palmed over the bar by Morris.

Glenavon used all three subs with Daniel Kearns and Fabio coming on for Braniff and Cooper on 81 minutes and then Gary Hamilton came on for Hall on 85 minutes.

Kevin Braniff - celebrates his goal at the Oval.

Kevin Braniff – celebrates his goal at the Oval.

Having qualified for Europe it takes the pressure off for the Irish Cup final on May 7 against Linfield.

Glenavon: Tuffey, Marshall, Dillon, Lindsay, Patton, Cooper, Kilmartin, Martyn, Hall, Braniff, Bradley. Subs: Hamilton, Kearns, Sykes, Fabio, McGrory.