Glenavon 2-2 Crusaders
Danske Bank Premiership
Mourneview Park, Saturday 26th October 2019
Match Report by Philip Hawthorne
Photos by Maynard Collins
Only a stoppage time equaliser from Crusaders sub Paul McElroy denied a patched up Glenavon side what would have probably been a deserved win. Jamie McGonigle had put the visitors ahead in the 44th minute but Jordan Jenkins equalised just after the hour mark.
Stephen Murray put Glenavon 2-1 in front in the 85th minute, three minutes after replacing Jenkins, but McElroy grabbed that late, late equaliser for the Crues.
After Andrew Mitchell had failed a late fitness test, Gary Hamilton named himself in the starting line-up for the first time since February and the Glenavon player-manager must take a lot of credit for inspiring his team to an excellent performance and a hard-fought draw against a Crusaders team that most observers would have backed to win comfortably.
Andrew Doyle also failed his fitness test and joined a long list of seven or eight injured first team players. James Singleton captained the team from centre half alongside Daniel Larmour who won the sponsor’s Man of the Match Award for an assured performance. Paddy Burns and Aaron Harmon completed the back line with Rhys Marshall and Robbie Garrett once again in the midfield engine room. Andrew Hall and Kyle Beggs provide the width with teenage striker Jordan Jenkins up front alongside his more experienced gaffer.
Paul Heatley, so often the danger man for Crusaders, was first to threaten when he was played in by Gary Thompson in the third minute, but James Taylor did well to block his shot away for a corner.
Beggs, playing on the left wing, was picked out by a diagonal ball by Marshall in the 9th minute and he drew a save out of Ger Doherty at the foot of his post after he cut inside onto his right foot.
Three minutes later Ross Clarke whipped a dangerous ball across the six-yard box which Harmon did well not to turn into his own net, Taylor dropping on the loose ball before Heatley could pounce.
Five minutes later Clarke’s free kick was headed onto the underside of his own bar by Larmour before the ball was hacked clear.
Hamilton spun around Colin Coates just outside the Crues box and played the ball through to Jenkins who was denied by a decent save from Doherty
Hall then picked out the run of Marshall with a great pass and only the intervention of Billy Joe Burns denied the Glenavon player a shot at Doherty’s goal. Hall then picked up the ball and raced forward before unleashing a shot from 22 yards that flew just wide of the left-hand post.
In the 34th minute Clarke’s free kick proved too hot to handle for Taylor and he was grateful that Harmon was on hand to clear the danger.
With half time approaching Jenkins was played in on the edge of the box by Hall and went down under a challenge by Rory Hale. Glenavon fans were shouting for a penalty but replays later showed the Crues midfielder had just got a toe on the ball.
There was just a minute of the first half left when Jordan Owens nodded down Michael Ruddy’s free kick and McGonigle slammed the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle to send the visitors in to the break with a one goal lead.
In the second half it seemed that Crusaders were content to sit on their lead but Glenavon, with nothing to lose, went for it and were duly rewarded in the 61st minute when Marshall picked up the ball from a lay-off by Hamilton, raced forward and squared the ball for Jenkins to stroke home from just inside the box.
Declan Caddell almost put the Crues back in from after 68 minutes when he flashed a shot just wide of Taylor’s right-hand post but it was Glenavon who looked the hungrier of the two sides and so it proved with five minutes remaining. Marshall again was involved, feeding a pass to substitute Conor McCloskey who in turn fed Beggs. The winger then cut the ball back to McCloskey who saw his right foot shot deflect off Coates and fall kindly for fellow sub Murray for a simple left-foot finish. Murray had already had a great chance to put his side in front just moments before when again he was set up by McCloskey but the former Warrenpoint striker took too long and BJ Burns got back to nick the ball away.
In the 88th minute Taylor pulled off an unbelievable save to deny Owens an equaliser and as Glenavon broke with Beggs, Murray and McCloskey charging forward it looked like a clinching goal was on the cards but Beggs elected to shoot rather than play in a team mate and Doherty managed to get enough on the shot to turn it over the bar.
The game had gone into the first of three minutes of added time when BJ Burns pumped a ball into the Glenavon box which was only half cleared and McGonigle was able to fire a low cross into the six yard box which was gratefully received by McElroy sliding in at the back post to bundle the ball over the line.
Glenavon: 18. James Taylor (GK), 15. Aaron Harmon, 2. Daniel Larmour, 27. James Singleton (C), 3. Paddy Burns, 11. Andrew Hall, 8. Rhys Marshall, 23. Kyle Beggs, 28. Robert Garrett, 80. Gary Hamilton, 30. Jordan Jenkins
Subs: 21. Jack O’Mahony (for 11. Andrew Hall, 90+2’), 20. Conor McCloskey (for 80. Gary Hamilton, 71’), 24. Stephen Murray (for 30. Jordan Jenkins, 82’); not used: 13. Oisin Barr, 33. Kyle Neill, 40. Mark Matthews (GK)
Goals: 30. Jordan Jenkins (61’), 24. Stephen Murray (85’)
Yellow Cards: James Singleton (70’)
Crusaders: 30. Gerard Doherty, 2. Billy Joe Burns, 4. Howard Beverland, 6. Colin Coates (C), 9. Jamie McGonigle, 17. Michael Ruddy, 10. Rory Hale, 21. Gary Thompson, 18. Jordan Owens, 25. Ross Clarke, 22. Paul Heatley.
Subs: 12. Declan Caddell (for 21. Gary Thompson, 62’), 7. Philip Lowry (for 22. Paul Heatley, 62’), 29. Paul McElroy (for 10. Rory Hale, 78’); not used: 1. Sean O’Neill (GK), 16. Kyle Owens, 24. Reece McGinley.
Goals: 9. Jamie McGonigle (44’), 29. Paul McElroy (90+1’)
Yellow cards: 6. Colin Coates (37’), 4 Howard Beverland (90+1’)
Referee: Shane Andrews