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Three changes to the Glenavon starting lineup as Gary Hamilton looks to maintain a push on two fronts and no doubt he has one eye on next week’s Irish Cup Quarter Final. Mark Sykes, a scoring substitute in last week’s win against Ballinamallard, is in from the start and he’s joined in the starting lineup by Andy Kilmartin and Renato de Vecchi. Andrew Hall, Ciaran Martyn and Dave Elebert are omitted today.
Aaron Callaghan has five changes from Saturday’s League Cup Final, mostly enforced due to injuries.
Glenavon started the game with real intensity and created early chances for Sykes, Cooper and Bates. Bates was unlucky when his first effort was blocked in the 6 yard box and his follow up would surely have crossed the line with Neeson stranded had it not got stuck in the muddy goalmouth.
In the 36th minute Neeson made a smart save at his near post to keep out a shot by Greg Moorhouse but he was relieved three minutes later when a cross-shot by James Singleton whistled past his post.
Cooper then tested the Rangers keeper with a low shot across his area with the rebound not falling kindly for the Glenavon strike force.
Despite all of Glenavon’s pressure Rangers could have scored with their only chance of the first half in the 41st minute when the referee played an advantage when TJ Murray was fouled as he played the ball through and it took an excellent save by Johnny Tuffey to deny Tommy Elder from 14 yards.
Steven McCullough’s 51st minute dangerous free kick was touched over for a corner by Tuffey and six minutes later Elder scooped over from 10 yards.
In the 69th minute Sykes did well to keep the ball in on the Rangers byeline and fire over a low cross that Moorhouse attempted to flick in from a yard out but didn’t get enough on it.
Three minutes later a well-struck 25 yard free kick by Bates had Neeson scrambling across his line but the ball flew just wide of his right hand post.
With 15 minutes left on the clock Marshall broke down the right wing and crossed to the middle where the ball was just inches too far in front of Bates but Cooper collected the ball on the left and tested Neeson with a shot that he parried at his near post.
As Glenavon piled on the pressure in the final minutes and the hosts got everyone behind the ball Mark Clarke got a vital touch to nick the ball off Gary Hamilton’s toe and Cooper and Marshall had a succession of shots blocked by McNally and Taggart.
Carrick: Neeson, Foster (Smyth 48), McNally, McCullough, Taggart (c), Clarke, TJ Murray, Noble, McConnell (Salley 82), Elder (Mustapha 68), McVey. Subs: M Murray, Smyth, Morrow, Salley, Mustapha
Glenavon: Tuffey (c), Marshall, Canning, Marron, Singleton, Renato (Hamilton 80), Sykes, Kilmartin, Cooper, Moorhouse, Bates (Gray 86). Subs: Hamilton, Neill, Lindsay, McGrory, Gray
Referee: Andrew Davey