Larne 1-0 Glenavon
Danske Bank Premiership
Inver Park, Saturday 7th March 2020
Match Report by Calum Jones
Glenavon suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat away to Larne in Saturday’s evening kick-off.
Mark Randall scored the only goal of the game on 15 minutes to secure a victory which sees the Inver Park side move to within just three points of the top three.
In the opening minute of the game Glenavon goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey displayed good handling skills to safely gather a dangerous cross into the box by Tomas Cosgrove from the right flank.
Four minutes later at the other end Calum Birney got on the end of a Conor McCloskey free-kick, but the defender’s header drifted harmlessly wide.
Randall had a pop at goal from outside the box in the fifth minute, but the shot didn’t trouble Tuffey, sailing wide of the keeper’s left-hand post.
The game’s only goal arrived on the 15-minute mark. John Herron broke clear on the right and raced into the box before attempting to play the ball across the six-yard line. Robert Garrett managed to block that initial cross, but he only succeeded in presenting the ball back to Herron, who poked the ball across goal again. James Singleton could only get a faint flick on the ball as he tried to cut out the pass and it made its way to Randall and the former Arsenal midfielder had the simple task of tapping the ball home.
Larne were comfortable for much of the remainder of the first half as Glenavon really struggled to get a foothold in the game. In the 36th minute Dean Jarvis picked Herron out with an excellent cross from the left, but the midfielder headed over from six yards when he really should have at least forced Tuffey into action.
Two minutes later McCloskey provided a preview of what was to come from him in the second half when he dribbled up to the edge of the penalty area before curling a shot at goal and forcing Conor Mitchell into a save, the Larne goalkeeper palming the ball away for a corner.
Andrew Doyle did well to block Lee Lynch’s shot two minutes before the break to ensure that Glenavon’s deficit remained at just the one goal at half-time.
Larne started the second period brightly and Joe Tully teed up Lynch for a shot on 50 minutes. Lynch tried to lob Tuffey from 20 yards, but the Glenavon captain was equal to the effort, leaping to get his right hand to the ball before Aaron Harmon was able to clear.
Larne had an even better chance to double their lead in the 68th minute when Herron’s corner found Jarvis, but he could only head over the bar.
As the second half wore on Glenavon came into the game more and more, largely through the efforts of the excellent McCloskey, who produced what was undoubtedly one of his finest performances to date for the Lurgan Blues.
On 73 minutes he came agonisingly close to an equaliser when he rattled the crossbar with a thunderous shot from a free-kick 25 yards from goal, while two minutes later Larne’s Man of the Match Fuad Sule had to head another dangerous shot from the Glenavon winger over his own crossbar.
McCloskey finally managed to find the net on 77 minutes, only for the effort to be ruled out for offside. After being found with a long ball from Matthew Snoddy, McCloskey’s first touch was great, setting himself for a shot 20 yards from goal. The winger curled a beautiful strike beyond Mitchell and into the far top corner. However, the linesman had raised his flag, adjudging the Glenavon midfielder to have been in an offside position when he received Snoddy’s pass.
There was a lengthy break in play as the game entered the dying minutes when Jordan Jenkins and Sule both required treatment after contesting a high ball. There were real concerns about Jenkins when a stretcher was called for, but after further assessment it appears that his injury isn’t as serious as was initially feared.
McCloskey went close again in injury time with a powerfully struck low shot that went narrowly wide of Mitchell’s right-hand post, but it just wasn’t to be for Glenavon, and the home side held on to secure a sixth consecutive victory.
After two games on the road, it’s back home to Mourneview Park for the Lurgan Blues next Saturday (14th March) for an important game against Carrick Rangers. Gary Hamilton’s side currently occupy seventh spot in the league table, one place and three points above Niall Currie’s men. Kick-off is at 3pm.
Larne: 21. Conor Mitchell (GK), 4. Albert Watson, 5. Chris Ramsey, 7. Fuad Sule, 8. Mark Randall, 14. Joe Tully, 16. Lee Lynch, 23. Tomas Cosgrove, 24. Jeff Hughes (C), 26. Dean Jarvis, 36. John Herron
Subs: 29. Cillin Gilmour (for 14. Joe Tully, 63’), 15. Ben Tilney (for 8. Mark Randall, 74’), 37. Andrew Mitchell (for 36. John Herron, 83’); not used: 1. Conor Devlin, 2. Harry Flowers, 3. Graham Kelly, 22. Pablo Andrade
Goals: 8. Mark Randall (15’)
Yellow Cards: 8. Mark Randall (69’)
Glenavon: 1. Jonny Tuffey (GK) (C), 6. Andrew Doyle, 12. Greg Moorhouse, 15. Aaron Harmon, 19. Danny Purkis, 20. Conor McCloskey, 26. Matthew Snoddy, 27. James Singleton, 28. Robert Garrett, 32. Calum Birney, 34. Dylan Davidson
Subs: 21. Jack O’Mahony (for 34. Dylan Davidson, 59’), 30. Jordan Jenkins (for 12. Greg Moorhouse, 59’), 10. Conan Byrne (for 30. Jordan Jenkins, 90+2’); not used: 2. Daniel Larmour, 3. Paddy Burns, 23. Kyle Beggs, 37. Cathal Farren
Yellow Cards: 34. Dylan Davidson (55’)
Referee: Raymond Crangle