Ballinamallard United 0 – 3 Glenavon
Danske Bank Premiership
Ferney Park, Saturday November 18th 2017
Match Report by Calum Jones
Glenavon capitalised on Coleraine’s defeat at Linfield by defeating bottom club Ballinamallard United 3 – 0 at Ferney Park on Saturday to move to within two points of the Bannsiders at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table.
Mark Sykes opened the scoring for the Lurgan Blues on the stroke of half-time, while James Singleton grabbed the second goal minutes after the break. Substitute Marc Griffin capped off an assured performance by Gary Hamilton’s men by adding a third in the 86th minute.
Ballinamallard started the game brightly enough, but it was Glenavon who created the first clear opportunity. Andy Hall flicked on a Rhys Marshall throw-in to Bobby Burns, who in turn played the ball inside to strike partner Andrew Mitchell. Mitchell laid the ball into the path of Sykes, but the midfielder’s low shot was stopped by the boot of Mallards keeper Richard Brush.
The visitors had a penalty appeal dismissed by referee Raymond Hetherington on seven minutes when Singleton went down in the box, while the full-back flashed a wicked shot across the face of goal four minutes later following some smart wing play from the impressive Josh Daniels.
Glenavon should have gone in front in the 17th minute. Marshall didn’t get the desired connection on his volley from Burns’s free-kick and Brush was able to save, while Singleton couldn’t convert the rebound.
The home side’s keeper frustrated Glenavon again just after the half-hour mark with an outstanding double-save. Daniels’s deflected cross from the left fell for Hall, who produced a vicious volley which Brush did well to stop. The keeper then sprang up in the blink of an eye to deny Burns from the follow-up.
Both Mitchell and Daniels saw opportunities slip away when their first touch let them down, but Glenavon finally broke the Mallards’ resistance on 42 minutes. Burns fed the ball wide to Daniels on the left and the winger burst past Ryan McConnell, carrying the ball to the byline before squaring it for Sykes, who converted from six yards for his fifth league goal of the season.
Glenavon doubled their lead just two minutes into the second half. Brush failed to gather a Burns corner, and when the ball fell to Singleton he smashed it in off the underside of the bar with his right foot.
Sykes might have grabbed his second of the afternoon in the 55th minute, but he was cynically scythed down by Blaine Burns as he burst towards the Mallards penalty area.
Sammy Clingan came close to adding his name to the scoresheet on a couple of occasions. First he saw a free-kick saved by Brush, before his well-struck left-footed shot from distance brushed the side-netting, while the dejected hosts rarely threatened Jonathan Tuffey’s goal at the other end.
It was substitute Griffin who scored the Lurgan Blues’ third goal. Fellow sub Andy McGrory played the ball to Hall, and his slide rule through ball sent Griffin clear. The striker’s low shot went beneath Brush and found the net.
Glenavon’s victory sets up a mouth-watering clash at Mourneview Park on Friday night (November 24th, kick-off 8pm) with champions Linfield, who handed league leaders Coleraine their first Premiership defeat of the season at Windsor Park on Saturday. The Bannsiders also host the in-form third-placed Crusaders next Saturday, in what is set to be a massive weekend at the top end of the table.
Ballinamallard United: 1. Richard Brush, 2. Ryan McConnell, 3. Colm McLaughlin, 5. James McKenna (C), 6. Richard Clarke, 7. Shane McGinty, 12. Jonathan Leddy, 16. Blaine Burns, 17. Niall Owens, 19. Niall Brennan, 20. Matthew Smyth
Subs: 10. Ciaran Martyn (for 16. Blaine Burns, 58 mins), 15. Gary Armstrong (for 19. Niall Brennan, 58 mins), 14. Joshua McIlwaine (for 10 Ciaran Martyn, 64 mins); not used: 4. Ross Taheny, 18. Ben McCann
Bookings: 7. Shane McGinty (51 mins), 2. Ryan McConnell (55 mins)
Glenavon: 1. Jonathan Tuffey (C), 3. Bobby Burns, 4. Simon Kelly, 5. Andrew Doyle, 7. Josh Daniels, 8. Rhys Marshall, 9. Andrew Mitchell, 11. Andrew Hall, 14. Mark Sykes, 16. Sammy Clingan, 27. James Singleton
Subs: 17. Andy McGrory (for 8. Rhys Marshall, 68 mins), 10. Marc Griffin (for 3. Bobby Burns, 76 mins), 20. Gary Hamilton (for 9. Andrew Mitchell, 76 mins); not used: 21. Jack O’Mahony, 26. Kris Lindsay
Goals: 14. Mark Sykes (42 mins), 27. James Singleton (47 mins), 10. Marc Griffin (86 mins)
Bookings: 8. Rhys Marshall (10 mins), 3. Bobby Burns (29 mins)
Referee: Raymond Hetherington