Ballymena United 0-3 Glenavon
Danske Bank Premiership
Ballymena Showgrounds, Saturday 18th January 2020
Match Report by Calum Jones
Photos by Maynard Collins and Alan Weir
Three of Gary Hamilton’s January signings got on the scoresheet on Saturday as Glenavon defeated Ballymena United 3-0 at the Showgrounds.
Conan Byrne opened the scoring 10 minutes before half-time when his free-kick took a deflection off Kyle Owens and beat Jordan Williamson.
Danny Purkis then doubled Glenavon’s lead in the 65th minute by scoring his second goal in two games since making the step up to the Premiership from the Amateur League as he rounded Williamson and slotted home.
Substitute Greg Moorhouse rounded the scoring off in stoppage time by lashing home a half-volley which Williamson failed to keep out of the net.
Glenavon started the game brightly, enjoying plenty of possession in the opening few minutes, but it was the hosts who were the first to really threaten. Reece Glendinning swung over a cross from the right to pick out Declan Carville on 11 minutes, but the forward’s downward header bounced wide of Jonny Tuffey’s left-hand post.
The Sky Blues came close to breaking the deadlock two minutes later. Kyle Owens was allowed to carry the ball forward over the halfway line unchallenged and the big centre-half had a pop at goal from about 35 yards out. Tuffey’s save wasn’t the most convincing, but he did manage to tip the ball onto the post and eventually Andrew Doyle cleared the danger.
Cathair Friel really should have scored a minute later. Steven McCullough’s throw-in found Carville and he laid the ball back for Friel to shoot, but the striker dragged his low right-footed effort wide of the near post.
Midway through the first half a scrappiness crept into the game as both sides began to misplace passes. On 25 minutes Williamson lost his footing as he was preparing to receive a back-pass from Owens. For a moment it looked as if Jordan Jenkins was going to take advantage, but the goalkeeper managed to recover in time.
Glenavon opened the scoring on 35 minutes in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. Josh Daniels won a free-kick inside the ‘D’ and Byrne stepped up to take it. The winger’s shot took a wicked deflection off Owens, wrong-footing Williamson and finding the net.
The Lurgan Blues could have doubled their lead two minutes later, as Purkis fired a low shot narrowly wide of Willamson’s right-hand post.
On 42 minutes Friel was given far too much time to size up a shot, but his curling right-footed effort drifted wide of the upright.
Tuffey produced a super save to deny Carville on the hour mark. Friel curled a ball to the far post to pick out Carville and his header was destined for the far corner until Tuffey dived down at full stretch to his right and pushed the ball round the post.
From the resulting corner McGrory found Friel and the striker’s header crashed off the crossbar, the home side coming within inches of finding an equaliser.
Purkis had another good game up front for Glenavon and the striker doubled the away side’s lead on 65 minutes. Strike partner Jenkins produced a brilliant run and pass to set it up for Purkis, cutting in from the left wing and slipping a through-ball into the box. Purkis rounded Williamson with his first touch and slotted into the net with his second to make it 2-0.
Leroy Millar tried to hit back for the Braidmen on 76 minutes when he curled a free-kick round the Glenavon wall. The midfielder’s shot was on target, but again Tuffey produced a smart save, diving to his left this time to tip the ball behind.
Three minutes later, Purkis nearly managed to take the ball round Williamson again, but this time the goalkeeper did well to claim it at the striker’s feet.
Moorhouse came off the bench to replace the impressive Jenkins on 81 minutes, and it was the substitute who rounded off the scoring for the Lurgan Blues in the third minute of injury time. Daniels skinned Glendinning on the left wing and drove to the byline before pulling the ball back for Jack O’Mahony. The young winger teed the ball up for Moorhouse to strike and his right-footed half-volley found the net at the near post despite Williamson’s efforts to keep it out.
The victory saw seventh-placed Glenavon move five points clear of Ballymena, who slipped to ninth in the table after Carrick Rangers’ shock victory over Cliftonville. Gary Hamilton’s side are three points clear of Niall Currie’s men, and seven adrift of Larne in sixth place.
Glenavon return to action on Tuesday night (21st January) as they travel to Lakeview Park to take on Loughgall in the Euro Electrix Mid Ulster Cup Final. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.
Ballymena United: 31. Jordan Williamson (GK), 2. Tony Kane, 4. Jonny Addis, 9. Cathair Friel, 11. Steven McCullough, 16. Declan Carville, 17. Andy McGrory, 21. Jim Ervin (C), 23. Leroy Millar, 24. Reece Glendinning, 35. Kyle Owens
Subs: 14. Andrew Burns (for 21. Jim Ervin, 46’), 26. Joshua Kelly (for 4. Jonny Addis, 70’), 25. Aaron Burns (for 2. Tony Kane, 70’); not used: 1. Ross Glendinning, 10. James Knowles, 20. Jude Winchester, 28. Ross Lavery
Yellow Cards: 35. Kyle Owens (33’), 9. Cathair Friel (67’), 14. Andrew Burns (90’), 16. Declan Carville (90+4′)
Glenavon: 1. Jonny Tuffey (GK) (C), 6. Andrew Doyle, 7. Josh Daniels, 10. Conan Byrne, 15. Aaron Harmon, 19. Danny Purkis, 26. Matthew Snoddy, 27. James Singleton, 28. Robert Garrett, 30. Jordan Jenkins, 32. Calum Birney
Subs: 20. Conor McCloskey (for 10. Conan Byrne, 64’), 12. Greg Moorhouse (for 30. Jordan Jenkins, 81’), 21. Jack O’Mahony (for 28. Robert Garrett, 90+1’); not used: 2. Daniel Larmour, 3. Paddy Burns, 23. Kyle Beggs, 55. Seamus Sharkey
Goals: 10. Conan Byrne (35’), 19. Danny Purkis (65’), 12. Greg Moorhouse (90+3’)
Yellow Cards: 32. Calum Birney (83′), 28. Robert Garrett (85’), 6. Andrew Doyle (90+4′), 27. James Singleton (90+5′)
Referee: Keith Kennedy