Coleraine 1-1 Glenavon
Danske Bank Premiership
Coleraine Showgrounds, Saturday January 12th 2019
Match Report by Philip Hawthorne
Glenavon came from behind to earn a point in a game played in difficult conditions with a strong blustery wind and a poor playing surface making it hard work for both teams. Former Glenavon striker Eoin Bradley had given the Bannsiders a 20th minute lead which they held until five minutes into the second half when Niall Grace scored a cracker from the edge of the box, his first league goal since joining Glenavon in the Summer.
Both sides pressed for a winner and Jamie McGonigle’s free kick was tipped over the bar by Jonny Tuffey but Jordan Jenkins had the best chance to seal a victory but he was denied by a double save by Chris Johns.
Stephen Murray returned to the starting lineup for Glenavon and Jenkins was handed a rare start up front alongside Murray. Sammy Clingan returned from injury in midfield alongside Grace with Andy Hall was also back from an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s Irish Cup game.
Ben Doherty was in Coleraine’s starting line-up for his home debut as he faced Glenavon for the first time since his loan move from Derry City ended and he elected to join the Bannsiders.
Eoin Bradley put the Bannsiders ahead in the 20th minute when he tapped in after Jonnny Tuffey parried a close-range shot from Jamie Glackin. Stephen Lowry had fired a cross towards Glackin who was just outside the six yard box and he showed great control to bring the ball down, turn and unleash a shot that Tuffey did well to save but Bradley reacted quickest and got to the loose ball leaving himself with a simple tap in at the far post.
Before that opening goal it took a superb last-ditch tackle by Aaron Canning to deny Josh Daniels after he was played in by a measured pass from Sammy Clingan
Gareth McConaghie also made a goal saving tackle after the opening goal when he blocked a shot from Jenkins after Grace played him in and Canning again came to Coleraine’s rescue when he diverted a shot from Murray out for a corner.
Grace scored the equaliser in the second half with a wonderful curling effort five minutes after the break. Half-time substitute Conor McCloskey fed the ball down the right for Murray’s run and he crossed towards the centre of the box as McCloskey arrived to meet it with a low shot that was blocked. The former Ballymena winger collected the ball from the rebound and laid it back to Josh Daniels who squared it to Grace. He took a touch to set it before curling a beautiful shot into the top corner leaving Johns rooted to the spot.
McGonigle’s free kick four minutes later could have restored the home side’s lead but Tuffey did well to fingertip it over the bar.
Jenkins had a glorious chance just after the hour mark to put Glenavon ahead when Daniels raced down the left and cut the ball back for the young striker but Johns, who was voted Coleraine’s Man of the Match, made a great double save.
Glenavon had to withstand a succession of Coleraine corners late on with Canning heading one just over the bar before the referee blew the final whistle.
Credit must go to both teams for playing such an open and entertaining game in such difficult conditions with the wind at times blowing clearances back for corners!
Coleraine: Johns, Mullan, McConaghie, Canning, Edgar, Doherty, Glackin, Lowry (c), Carson, E Bradley, McGonigle. Subs: M Doherty (GK), Douglas (Mullan 85), O’Donnell, Parkhill (Glackin 85), Owens, J Bradley, Moore
Goals: Bradley 20
Yellow Cards: Carson 31, Edgar 56
Glenavon: Tuffey (c), Marshall, King, Marron, Singleton, Hall, Grace, Clingan, Daniels, Murray, Jenkins. Subs: Donnelly, Harmon, Larmour, McCloskey (Hall 46), Norton, Sharkey, Hamilton (Jenkins 71)
Goals: Grace 50
Yellow Cards: Singleton 75, Grace 90+2
Referee: Ross Dunlop