Carrick Rangers 3
Glenavon are on the verge of securing a European playoff spot after a dramatic second half performance at Taylor’s Avenue.
Two goals down after 50 minutes, Glenavon recovered to blast six second half goals past Carrick.
Lee Chapman and Jordan Gibson put the hosts in front, but amazingly an Andy Hall hat-trick, two from Peter Campbell and a Robbie Garrett strike earned the visitors the three points, with Chapman pulling one back for the hosts.
It means a point from Saturday’s game against Dungannon Swifts at Mourneview Park (5.30pm kick-off) would ensure a spot in the semi-finals.
There was an early chance for the visitors just as the clock rolled on to two minutes when captain James Singleton’s cross found Matthew Fitzpatrick at the back post, but he couldn’t get his sidefooted effort on target.
Almost immediately Carrick went up the end and went close themselves, but after good work to get into a shooting position Lloyd Anderson’s shot hit the side netting.
Glenavon pressed and pushed to open the scoring but were caught on the hop by the hosts with 10 minutes on the clock. Carrick counter attacked and the ball was fed through the middle by Kyle Cherry. He found Lee Chapman who cooly finished to put the hosts ahead.
On 13 minutes Glenavon should have been level. The ball broke for Danny Purkis, who was left one on one with Aaron Hogg. He rounded the keeper but ran the ball wide and despite trying to pull the ball back for Matthew Fitzpatrick, the ball ended up hitting the side netting.
Carrick could have added a second when Champan’s diving header went over the bar, while at the other end Singleton leapt high to get onto a cross from Fitzpatrick, but his 33rd minute header went across the face of goal.
Then the hosts had another great opportunity when McMullan curled a shot towards the top corner, but luckily for Glenavon he narrowly missed the target.
With just under 10 minutes to go in the first half, just as news of Ballymena taking the lead against Warrenpoint was coming through, Glenavon felt they should have had a penalty when Peter Campbell went down under a challenge, but referee Lee Tavinder pointed instead for a goal kick.
Just before the interval Glenavon had a great chance to equalise but neither Purkis nor Fitzpatrick could find the net, then a Campbell header from Calvin Douglas’ cross was gathered up by Hogg.
Glenavon knew they needed to come out and respond in the second half. Instead, Carrick doubled their lead through Jordan Gibson, who headed home their second of the day when he connected with Kurtis Forsythe’s cross.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Glenavon were dead and buried. However, the game turned on its head five minutes later. First, Glenavon were awarded a free kick when Forsythe brought down Matthew Snoddy. With the ball about 20 yards from goal, Andy Hall did what Andy Hall does, putting the resulting free kick into the top right corner.
A minute level Glenavon were back on level terms thanks to Campbell, who tapped in Hall’s cross from close range.
They could have had a third but Campbell’s volley went over the bar on 66 minutes, and then Purkis inadvertently blocked a Garrett shot with the striker being unable to get out of the midfielder’s way.
They need not have worried as Campbell did find the net on 73 minutes, bursting onto a flick-on by Purkis to rifle home from close range.
Amazingly, two minutes later they were 4-2 up thanks to Robbie Garrett, who powered the ball into the net from close range.
By this stage this writer’s nerves were shot, and that situation was not helped when Carrick pulled a goal back on 79 minutes. Chapman tapped in his second of the night after a throw-in was flicked on into his path.
It was all set up for a tense finish, but on 88 minutes Glenavon scored their fifth of the night when Andy Hall headed home Peter Campbell’s free kick from inside the six yard box.
The drama wasn’t done there. Substitute Josh Doyle was brought down by Hogg inside the box with referee Tavinder awarding a spot kick. Andy Hall stepped up and took the penalty and saw it initially saved, however the referee noticed that Hogg had stepped off his line and ordered a retake. Hall made no mistake with his second effort.
Pictures, highlights and reaction to follow.
CARRICK RANGERS: Hogg, Forsythe, Neale, Chapman, Gordon, Cherry, Glendenning, Gibson, Anderson, McMullan, Ramsey. Subs: Connor Friel, Loughran, Smith, Millar, Mulholland, Kalla, Cathair Friel.
GOALS: Chapman 10, 79; Gibson 49
BOOKINGS: Forsythe 55, Glendenning 58, McMullan 65, Gordon 76
GLENAVON: Hyland, Doyle, Purkis, Campbell, Hall, Snoddy, Fitzpatrick, Douglas, Singleton, Garrett, Ward. Subs: Birney, Byrne, Harmon, Norton (Garrett 76), J Doyle (Purkis 78), McNulty (Doyle 74), Doran.
GOALS: Hall 56, 87, 90; Campbell 57, 73; Garrett 75
BOOKINGS: Campbell, Snoddy 59; Fitzpatrick 60, Singleton 69
REFEREE: Lee Tavinder