Glenavon 1-0 Linfield
Danske Bank Premiership
Mourneview Park, Friday 22nd November 2019
Match Report by Calum Jones
Photos by Maynard Collins and Alan Weir
Robert Garrett’s deflected first-half strike was the only goal of the game as Glenavon produced their best performance of the season to date to stun reigning champions Linfield at Mourneview Park on Friday night in front of the BBC Sport NI cameras.
The home side’s organisation, work rate and will to win were all first class in what was a great overall team performance, but it should be said that there were a host of excellent individual displays to boot.
Right-back Aaron Harmon was awarded the sponsor’s man of the match at Mourneview, while BBC commentator Tim McCann gave the nod to Josh Daniels in that respect. Jonny Tuffey, in what was his first match back after an injury lay-off of more than six weeks, made a couple of key saves between the sticks at vital times, and player-manager Gary Hamilton rolled back the years yet again to provide a reminder of just how fine a footballer he is. Journalists and fellow players alike were waxing lyrical about the Glenavon player-manager’s ability on Twitter post-match.
However, perhaps the pick of the bunch was Caolan Marron, who produced a sublime defensive display against Linfield starlet Shayne Lavery. Memories of Lavery’s quick-fire hat-trick in the previous encounter between the sides at Windsor Park back in September will still have been fresh in the minds of Glenavon supporters before kick-off, but so good was Marron’s performance that the former Everton striker was simply anonymous for large portions of the game. Lavery arrived at Mourneview off the back of winning his fourth full international cap for Northern Ireland against Germany on Tuesday night, while Marron had been in action for the U-21s side on the same evening, but anybody watching the game who was unfamiliar with the two could have been forgiven for thinking that Marron was the full international.
Having said all that, Lavery did have a chance to open the scoring for Linfield as early as the fifth minute. Kirk Millar flicked a Chris Casement throw-in on with his head and Lavery raced onto the ball on the right flank, outpacing Andrew Doyle and driving into the box before cutting inside Marron and getting a shot away with his left foot. The low effort went narrowly past Tuffey’s left-hand upright.
At the other end, Daniels went close for Glenavon five minutes later. Harmon swept a ball infield for Hamilton, who played a first-time pass into the feet of strike partner Andrew Mitchell. He used his strength to great effect to hold the ball up before laying it out to Daniels on the left side of the Linfield penalty area. The winger curled a low shot towards the far post with his right foot and goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson had to dive down to his left to push it behind for a corner.
The away supporters were livid moments later when referee Andrew Davey failed to show a yellow card to Garrett for a blatant deliberate handball as Linfield tried to break, and their frustration was only compounded when Jimmy Callacher did go into the book a minute later for a mistimed tackle on Mitchell.
Linfield went close to opening the scoring on 14 minutes. Millar swung a corner over from the left and Stafford met it with his head. The effort was on target, but thankfully for Glenavon James Singleton was on hand to clear the ball away from close to the line. The ball fell for Joel Cooper some 12 yards out, but the former Glenavon winger could only send his right-footed half-volley over the bar.
Ferguson denied Glenavon in the 21st minute by making a brilliant double save. When the goalkeeper punched a Mitchell cross clear, the ball fell to Garrett on the edge of the box. The former Linfield midfielder drilled a right-footed effort goalwards, but Ferguson kept it out. He was then alert enough to react to Hamilton’s shot on the rebound and save it as well.
The Linfield keeper could have done nothing to prevent the game’s only goal, which arrived in the 26th minute. Huge credit must go to Mitchell for the parts he played in the goal. When Ferguson rolled the ball out to Callacher he tried to carry it out from his own 18-yard line, but Mitchell chased him down and slid in to knock the ball away from the boot of the Linfield centre-half and into the path of Kyle Beggs. Glenavon then worked the ball out to the left and Daniels had a pop at goal which was charged down by Casement. The ball ended up at the feet of Mitchell and he had the presence of mind to lay if off nicely for Garrett to shoot at goal. The midfielder’s shot deflected off the right boot of Callacher and wrong-footed the helpless Ferguson before nestling in the right-hand bottom corner.
Lavery had a great opportunity to hit back for Linfield almost immediately. Sebastian Hery flicked a Matthew Clarke corner on at the near post, presenting Lavery with a golden opportunity. However, the striker could only direct his header over the bar from two yards out.
Glenavon might have doubled their lead three minutes before the break. Rhys Marshall danced his way into the Linfield penalty area before teeing up Mitchell. The striker sent his shot over the top when he really should have at least hit the target.
Tuffey made a super stop to deny Callacher in the third minute of the second half. The Linfield defender rose to meet Clarke’s corner and powered a header at goal, but the Glenavon keeper dived to his right and pushed the ball round the post.
Beggs produced some excellent wing play down the right four minutes later to dig out a cross to the back post. Daniels met the ball and headed it back inside for Mitchell, who turned and squeezed a shot in, only for Ferguson to smother the ball.
Mitchell had another effort on goal in the 57th minute. Singleton played a lovely ball over the top for the striker to run onto. Mitchell couldn’t have struck his left-footed shot any better, but Ferguson did really well in the Linfield goal, standing tall and palming the ball down for Casement to clear.
Tuffey produced another important save in the 65th minute to deny Hery. The French midfielder was allowed to carry the ball up to the edge of the Glenavon box before he pinged a low shot towards the bottom corner with his right foot. Tuffey dived down to his left to palm the ball behind for a corner.
Game management is a fashionable term in football these days. Well, it’s fair to say that Glenavon’s game management in the latter stages of last night’s match was superb, as they kept things tight at the back and worked hard to harry Linfield at the other end of the pitch, preventing David Healy’s side from creating any real chances of note in the closing 25 minutes, and ultimately holding on to secure a huge three points.
However, it would be remiss to leave things there and bring this report to a close without mentioning the outrageous piece of skill which Daniels produced in the 77th minute. Substitute Eoin Wearen played the ball out to Daniels on the left flank and he back-heeled it first time past Casement before spinning and leaving the former Portadown defender for dead. To give Casement his dues, he did recover to get back and prevent Daniels from getting a shot away.
Glenavon should carry a lot of confidence from this performance into what is another massive game at Mourneview Park on Tuesday night (26th November), as they welcome Institute for a rearranged fixture (kick-off 7.45pm).
Glenavon: 1. Jonny Tuffey (GK) (C), 4. Caolan Marron, 6. Andrew Doyle, 7. Josh Daniels, 8. Rhys Marshall, 9. Andrew Mitchell, 15. Aaron Harmon, 23. Kyle Beggs, 27. James Singleton (C), 28. Robert Garrett, 80. Gary Hamilton
Subs: 45. Eoin Wearen (for 80. Gary Hamilton, 72’), 20. Conor McCloskey (for 23. Kyle Beggs, 77’), 24. Stephen Murray (for 9. Andrew Mitchell, 80’); not used: 3. Paddy Burns, 18. James Taylor (GK), 25. Ross Hunter, 30. Jordan Jenkins
Goals: 28. Robert Garrett (26’)
Yellow Cards: 28. Robert Garrett (79’), 20. Conor McCloskey (86’)
Linfield: 1. Rohan Ferguson (GK), 2. Mark Stafford, 6. Jimmy Callacher, 9. Joel Cooper, 12. Kirk Millar, 14. Shayne Lavery, 16. Matthew Clarke, 20. Stephen Fallon, 21. Bastien Hery, 22. Jamie Mulgrew (C), 47. Chris Casement
Subs: 7. Andrew Waterworth (for 2. Mark Stafford, 46’), 28. Daniel Reynolds (for 21. Bastien Hery, 77’); not used: 4. Josh Robinson, 8. Matthew Shevlin, 23. Ryan McGivern, 27. Andrew Mitchell, 40. Alex Moore (GK)
Yellow Cards: 6. Jimmy Callacher (12’), 2. Mark Stafford (45’)
Referee: Andrew Davey