Glenavon 1-3 Larne
Danske Bank Premiership
Mourneview Park, Saturday 7th December 2019

Match Report by Calum Jones

Photos by Maynard Collins

Glenavon slipped to a second successive Premiership defeat on Saturday, losing 3-1 at home to sixth-placed Larne.

The visitors scored two almost identical goals late in the first half to take a 2-0 lead in at the break, as inswinging Martin Donnelly corners from the right were headed home, first by Harry Flowers on 38 minutes, then Albert Watson in the 44th minute.

Stephen Murray converted from the penalty spot for Glenavon just four minutes into the second half after Josh Daniels had been upended by Fuad Sule to reduce the Lurgan Blues’ deficit to just one goal.

However, any hopes of a fightback from Gary Hamilton’s men were snuffed out in the 75th minute when Johnny McMurray volleyed in Larne’s third goal from a Lee Lynch cross.

Larne started the game brightly, with David McDaid firing wide of Jonny Tuffey’s left-hand post from just outside the box on four minutes.

Tuffey then made an excellent save two minutes later, coming off his line quickly and diving at the feet of McMurray to deny him a shooting opportunity.

The Glenavon goalkeeper made an even better save on seven minutes. He was very nearly wrongfooted when Paddy Burns tried to block McDaid’s shot with his head. Tuffey was already diving down to his left, and he had to react quickly to the ball changing direction, saving with his right leg.

Glenavon’s best effort of the first half came on 23 minutes when Andy Hall curled a free-kick over the Larne wall. The shot was on target, but Larne keeper Conor Devlin was equal to it, tipping the ball over the bar.

The Glenavon supporters were livid two minutes later when referee Robert Harvey showed a yellow card to Chris Ramsey for a robust tackle on Andrew Doyle. Many of the Mourneview Park faithful believed the colour of the card should have been red.

Murray had a great chance to put Glenavon in front in the 27th minute, but Devlin made a fine save with his legs to deny the striker.

The breakthrough came in the 38th minute. Donnelly swung a corner in from the right and Flowers rose to meet it, powering his header into the net to put the away side in front.

Evidently Glenavon didn’t learn a lesson from that opening goal, because virtually the exact same thing happened again on 44 minutes. This time it was Watson who was picked out by Donnelly and the result was the same – the big defender heading home to double the visitors’ lead.

Glenavon knew that to have any chance of getting back into the game they needed to hit back early in the second half, and that is exactly what they did. Daniels surged into the box before being upended by Sule in the 49th minute. Referee Harvey deemed the challenge to be an illegal one and pointed to the spot. Up stepped Murray to dispatch the penalty. He sent Devlin the wrong way and thumped the ball home.

A bit of a ruckus occurred in the immediate aftermath of the penalty, which resulted in Murray and Flowers receiving yellow cards.

Tuffey was called into action again for Glenavon on 53 minutes. Donnelly produced a superb first touch to kill a high ball before firing a low shot towards the far corner. Tuffey dived down to his right to make the save.

Murray had an excellent opportunity to score his and Glenavon’s second goal in the 58th minute, but he could only drag his low shot narrowly wide of Devlin’s right-hand post.

Burns fizzed a corner across the six-yard box on 63 minutes. It was crying out for a touch, but no Glenavon player could oblige.

Larne wrapped up the three points by scoring their third goal on 75 minutes. It actually started as Glenavon threatened, with substitute Jordan Jenkins seeing his shot blocked in the Larne penalty area. The away side then launched a counter attack. McDaid fed the ball out to substitute Lynch on the right. He crossed for McMurray on the six-yard line and the striker acrobatically volleyed past Tuffey to restore the Inver Park men’s two-goal lead.

Larne held on comfortably for the remaining quarter of an hour to condemn Glenavon to a second successive league defeat, following the heavy loss away to Carrick Rangers the previous weekend.

It is Niall Currie’s side who are Glenavon’s next opponents, as they make the trip to Mourneview Park on Tuesday night (10th December) for a rearranged fixture. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.

Glenavon: 1. Jonny Tuffey (GK) (C), 3. Paddy Burns, 4. Caolan Marron, 6. Andrew Doyle, 7. Josh Daniels, 8. Rhys Marshall, 9. Andrew Mitchell, 11. Andy Hall, 15. Aaron Harmon, 24. Stephen Murray, 28. Robert Garrett

Subs: 2. Daniel Larmour (for 6. Andrew Doyle, 46’), 30. Jordan Jenkins (for 9. Andrew Mitchell, 46’), 23. Kyle Beggs (for 11. Andy Hall, 87’); not used: 16. Sammy Clingan, 20. Conor McCloskey, 45. Eoin Wearen, 80. Gary Hamilton

Goals: 24. Stephen Murray (49’, penalty)

Yellow Cards: 24. Stephen Murray (49’), 8. Rhys Marshall (85’)

Larne: 1. Conor Devlin (GK), 2. Harry Flowers, 3. Graham Kelly, 4. Albert Watson, 5. Chris Ramsey, 7. Fuad Sule, 8. Mark Randall, 10. David McDaid, 11. Martin Donnelly, 24. Jeff Hughes (C), 27. Johnny McMurray

Subs: 16. Lee Lynch (for 7. Fuad Sule, 67’), 15. Ben Tilney (for 11. Martin Donnelly, 79’); not used: 6. Shane McEleny, 19. Conor McKendry, 20. Sean Graham, 21. Conor Mitchell (GK), 29. Cillin Gilmour

Goals: 11. Martin Donnelly (10’, 24’), 27. Johnny McMurray (15’), 10. David McDaid (50’, 72’, 85’)

Yellow Cards: 5. Chris Ramsey (26’), 2. Harry Flowers (49’)

Referee: Robert Harvey