Cliftonville 1 – 1 Glenavon
Danske Bank Premiership
Solitude, Monday January 29th 2018
Match Report by Calum Jones
Photos by Alan Weir
Cliftonville and Glenavon played out an entertaining 1 – 1 draw in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Solitude on Monday night, a result which sees the third-placed Lurgan Blues remain five points clear of the fourth-placed Reds in the Danske Bank Premiership table.
Man of the match Andrew Doyle opened the scoring in the 59th minute, but Glenavon were to be in front for less than five minutes, as Jay Donnelly capitalised on a mix-up between Caolan Marron and Jonathan Tuffey to draw Cliftonville level on 62 minutes.
Both sides had chances to win the game in the closing stages, but some wasteful finishing ensured that it ended all square.
Cliftonville started much the brighter of the two sides and had a host of opportunities in the opening quarter of an hour, the best of which fell to Jay Donnelly in the sixth minute. Tuffey’s poor clearance presented the ball straight to Donnelly, but the striker mishit his shot, allowing the Glenavon goalkeeper to recover and make a fairly routine save.
Five minutes later the hosts had a penalty appeal turned down. Stephen Garrett went down under the challenge of Bobby Burns, but referee Raymond Crangle was having none of it.
Glenavon’s first real effort of note came on 21 minutes when Mark Sykes almost caught out Brian Neeson with an audacious effort from distance from a free-kick, but the Cliftonville keeper managed to tip the ball over the bar.
From the resulting corner Burns found the head of Doyle, but the centre-back could only direct his effort over the top.
Sykes had another opportunity to test Neeson from a set-piece on 38 minutes after he’d been cynically fouled by Jamie Harney, but he sent that effort harmlessly over.
Harney himself got on the end of a Ross Lavery free-kick five minutes later, but his acrobatic overhead effort was straight at Tuffey.
Joe Gormley really should have done better in the opening minute of the second half when he was played in by Jay Donnelly, but he sliced his effort wide.
On 48 minutes Donnelly found himself well placed to pick out Garrett in the box, but he wasted the opportunity by over-hitting his cross.
On 52 minutes Glenavon full-backs Rhys Marshall and James Singleton were both denied by Levi Ives blocks, then on 57 minutes Garry Breen almost headed the ball into his own net after Andrew Mitchell had whipped in a dangerous cross from the left flank following a strong run from Joel Cooper.
The opener arrived from the resulting corner. Before Saturday Doyle hadn’t scored a goal for Glenavon, but the defender now has two in as many games, and the manner in which he took the second of these suggests that there could be a few more to come.
Neeson connected poorly with a punch from Sykes’s corner. Lavery then tried to head the ball clear, but he could only send it as far as the edge of the penalty area, where Doyle picked it up. As Lavery raced out to close him down, Doyle stepped inside him before placing an exquisite side-footed effort into the far corner with his right foot.
However, Glenavon’s lead lasted for less than five minutes. A long clearance bounced awkwardly for Marron. The young defender tried to head the ball back to Tuffey, but he didn’t get enough on it, presenting it instead to Jay Donnelly, who pounced on the error by squeezing a left-foot shot beneath Tuffey and into the net to make it 1 – 1.
Marron very nearly turned the ball past his own goalkeeper on 67 minutes when he intercepted a Gormley cross that was intended for substitute Rory Donnelly. Tuffey produced an outstanding point-blank save to spare his teammate’s blushes.
Donnelly was involved again on 75 minutes when he raced onto a ball on the edge of the Glenavon penalty area. He tried to draw a foul from Tuffey, but the goalkeeper was wise to it and pulled out of the challenge in time, leaving Donnelly to throw himself to the floor and pick up a yellow card for simulation.
Glenavon’s best chance to win the game came 10 minutes from time. Burns played an excellent diagonal pass out to Cooper on the left. The winger’s first-time cross found substitute Marc Griffin in the six-yard box, but the striker scooped his effort over the bar.
Three minutes later Cliftonville might have snatched victory. Gormley fed the ball inside to Chris Curran, but the midfielder dragged his shot narrowly wide of Tuffey’s right-hand post.
In the closing minutes both Sykes and Griffin beat Neeson to crosses, but each of them could only manage to divert the ball over the bar rather than into the empty net, and the game finished one apiece.
Saturday (February 3rd) sees Glenavon return to Irish Cup action. The Lurgan Blues play host to Dungannon Swifts in an all-Premiership sixth-round clash at Mourneview Park.
Cliftonville: 13. Brian Neeson, 3. Levi Ives, 4. Garry Breen, 6. Jamie Harney, 7. Chris Curran (C), 10. Stephen Garrett, 19. Joe Gormley, 21. Jay Donnelly, 22. Ross Lavery, 23. Tomas Cosgrove, 28. Conor McDonald
Subs: 77. Rory Donnelly (for 22. Ross Lavery, 65 mins), 18. Jude Winchester (for 21. Jay Donnelly, 75 mins): not used: 2. Jamie McGovern, 20. Declan Dunne, 26. Shane Grimes
Goals: 21. Jay Donnelly (62 mins)
Yellow Cards: 6. Jamie Harney (39 mins), 5. Garry Breen (51 mins), 77. Rory Donnelly (75 mins Glenavon: 1. Jonathan Tuffey (C), 3. Bobby Burns, 5. Andrew Doyle, 8. Rhys Marshall, 9. Andrew Mitchell, 14. Mark Sykes, 15. Caolan Marron, 21. Jack O’Mahony, 23. Joel Cooper, 24. Stephen Murray, 27. James Singleton
Subs: 29. Stephen McCavitt (for 21. Jack O’Mahony, 51 mins), 10. Marc Griffin (for 9. Andrew Mitchell, 71 mins); not used: 22. Robbie Norton, 26. Kris Lindsay, 30. Jordan Jenkins
Goals: 5. Andrew Doyle (58 mins)
Yellow Cards: 3. Bobby Burns (43 mins)
Referee: Raymond Crangle