Gary Hamilton retains the same starting line-up as last Saturday’s 5-0 win against Ballymena United. Jay Donnelly is missing for the Reds and a last minute change for the hosts with Chris Ramsey breaking down in the warmup, his place in the starting line-up beng taken by Jaimie McGovern.
Daniel Hughes with a low shot hit the post in the 8th minute after he was played in by Jude Winchester. Four minutes later Hughes was booked, apparently for simulation, when he went down in the Glenavon box under a challenge from Kris Lindsay.
Glenavon fashioned a decent chance in the 24th minute when Eoin Bradley crossed to Andy Hall at the far post. He headed the ball back across the goal and Joel Cooper sent a right foot shot just wide.
Bradley almost produced a carbon copy of his opening goal against Ballymena only this time his 37th minute 25 yard free kick clipped the angle of bar and post. Close!
At half time it remains scoreless.
Peter Burke pulled off a superb save to deny Mark Sykes in the 53rd minute when he dived full length to turn the young midfielder’s rasping drive round the post. Three minutes before Sykes had forced the keeper into a save at his near post after seizing on some hesitant defending in the Reds box.
From a corner Burke could only get a finger tip to the ball and it dropped to McCourt beyond the far post. His low shot was cleared off the line by a combination of the keeper and a defender.
Joel Cooper made progress down the left wing before feeding McCourt but his shot dipped just over the bar from 25 yards.
Two goals in four minutes for the home side changed the complexion of the game. In the 56th minute a short corner routine saw Martin Donnelly play the ball back to Jaimie McGovern and his cross was met with a solid header by Reds skipper Jason McGuinness that gave Jonny Tuffey no chance. The Glenavon keeper was beaten again in the 60th minute when Ruairi Harkin’s shot took a deflection off Lindsay’s chest and took the ball just out of reach of the Glenavon keeper’s full-stretch dive.
An error by Lindsay in the 75th minute when he tried to chest Chris Curran’s cross back to Tuffey but David McDaid was alert and nipped in to tuck the ball through the keeper’s legs from four yards out.
Cliftonville: Burke, Cosgrove, McGovern, McGuinness (c), Ives, Curran, Knowles, Harkin, M Donnelly, Winchester, Hughes. Subs: A Donnelly, McDaid, Garrett, Catney, Lavery
Glenavon: Tuffey, Marshall, Lindsay, Kelly, Singleton, Hall, Sykes, Martyn (Kilmartin HT), Cooper, McCourt (c), Bradley. Subs: Kilmartin, Marron, Doyle, McGrory, Moorhouse
Referee: Arnold Hunter