Crusaders 0-1 Glenavon
Danske Bank Premiership
Seaview, Saturday 29th January 2022
Match report by Calum Jones
Glenavon held on for a hard-fought 1-0 win over Crusaders at Seaview on Saturday afternoon, with Peter Campbell’s early goal proving to be the winner.
Campbell bravely nodded home from a Matthew Fitzpatrick cross in the seventh minute before nastily colliding with the post. Thankfully for the Lurgan Blues, their goalscorer was fine to continue after a brief period of treatment.
Glenavon defended superbly to keep the Crues at bay in the latter stages of the game, but if truth be told the visitors might well have already had the three points wrapped up at that stage, because they created a number of decent opportunities to add to their advantage.
The home side saw plenty of the ball in the opening minutes of the game, but it was Glenavon who grabbed the early lead on seven minutes. Michael O’Connor played a high ball over the Crusaders backline for Fitzpatrick to run onto. The striker took one touch with his chest before lofting a ball towards the back post with his right boot. Campbell met it in the six-yard box ahead of Jonathan Tuffey and stooped to nod the ball into the net. The winger collided heavily with the post immediately after scoring, and there was some concern from the travelling fans that he wouldn’t be able to continue, but thankfully he was okay after a short period of treatment.
Ben Kennedy flashed a shot-cum-cross along the Glenavon six-yard box 10 minutes later as the home side looked to respond. Paul Heatley was lurking, but he couldn’t manage to get a boot to the ball.
Kennedy threatened again in the 19th minute when he struck a shot from distance. There was plenty of power in the effort, but Calum Birney managed to get a block in and Glenavon goalkeeper James Taylor was able to gather the ball.
Fitzpatrick latched onto a loose ball in the Crues penalty area following a Campbell cross on 24 minutes, but the resultant shot went well over the bar.
A Kennedy corner for Crusaders nine minutes later resulted in a scramble in the Glenavon penalty area, but the Lurgan Blues were eventually able to clear the danger.
Campbell picked out his captain James Singleton with a corner just a minute after at the other end, but the left-back couldn’t direct his header on target.
Crusaders defender Josh Robinson had an effort on goal from distance in the 38th minute, but the ball sailed well over Taylor’s head.
The ball fell invitingly for Campbell on 43 minutes after O’Connor had swung over a corner, but unfortunately the goalscorer couldn’t add to his tally, as his low shot went wide of the near post.
The last meaningful effort of the half arrived in the first minute of stoppage time, with Heatley curling over the bar from outside the box.
The Glenavon defenders knew they would be in for a bruising second half when Crusaders brought on Jordan Owens at the break, but it was the Lurgan Blues who threatened again in the early stages of the second period.
First Fitzpatrick hit the target with a low shot on 47 minutes which Tuffey saved comfortably, but former Lurgan Blue Daniel Larmour had to produce a superb intercepting tackle to prevent the striker scoring nine minutes later when he cut out Campbell’s low cross. Had Larmour not intervened, Glenavon’s top scorer would have had a tap-in.
Fitzpatrick again threatened on 61 minutes when O’Connor sent him clear on goal with a through-ball. His low shot was well enough struck, but Tuffey was able to save with his feet.
Tuffey’s opposite number Taylor had a simpler save to make two minutes later when Heatley’s shot lacked power.
Fitzpatrick will be disappointed not to have done better in the 72nd minute when Campbell squared the ball to him in the Crusaders penalty area. The striker hesitated when he should have got an early strike off, enabling Robinson to smother the eventual shot with a block.
Taylor produced a fine save to deny Crusaders captain Billy Joe Burns five minutes later. The defender’s shot was well hit from close range, but Taylor got his angles right and managed to prevent the ball from finding the net. Aidan Wilson’s follow-up shot went harmlessly wide.
Owens unsurprisingly posed an aerial threat throughout the second half, and he won a header to nod the ball down for fellow substitute Jonathan McMurray, but the former Larne striker’s volleyed shot was poor, and Taylor was able to catch the ball without any trouble.
O’Connor went close to adding a spectacular second for Glenavon after the ball had been laid off to him by substitute Conor McCloskey with just three minutes of normal time remaining. The midfielder struck his shot sweetly, but it went narrowly wide of Tuffey’s left-hand top corner.
Glenavon had to survive one hairy moment in injury time when there was a goalmouth scramble in the 94th minute, but survive they did, holding on to secure an impressive three points.
The Lurgan Blues will be hoping to make it three wins on the trot when they welcome bottom club Warrenpoint Town to Mourneview Park next Saturday (5th February). Kick-off is at 3pm.
Crusaders: 33. Jonathan Tuffey (GK), 2. Billy Joe Burns (C), 4. Aidan Wilson, 7. Philip Lowry, 8. Ben Kennedy, 12. Declan Caddell, 14. Jordan Forsythe, 20. Daniel Larmour, 22. Paul Heatley, 24. Joshua Robinson, 25. Ross Clarke
Subs: 18. Jordan Owens (for 25. Ross Clarke, 46’), 19. Jude Winchester (for 12. Declan Caddell, 65’), 15. Jarlath O’Rourke (for 24. Joshua Robinson, 74’), 27. Jonathan McMurray (for 14. Jordan Forsythe, 74’), 9. Adam Lecky (for 2. Billy Joe Burns, 88’); not used: 61. McKenzie Paulie (GK), 6. Robert Weir
Yellow cards: 24. Joshua Robinson (63’), 27. Jonathan McMurray (85’)
Glenavon: 18. James Taylor (GK), 4. Calum Birney, 5. Mark Haughey, 8. Michael O’Connor, 10. Peter Campbell, 14. Matthew Snoddy, 19. Matthew Fitzpatrick, 21. Jack O’Mahony, 23. Daniel Wallace, 27. James Singleton (C), 28. Robert Garrett
Subs: 17. Conor McCloskey (for 10. Peter Campbell, 80’); not used: 6. Andrew Doyle, 7. Andrew Waterworth, 11. Andrew Hall, 20. Conor Scannell, 26. Joshua Doyle, 44. Harry Lynch
Goals: 10. Peter Campbell (7’)
Yellow cards: 8. Michael O’Connor (45+3’), 28. Robert Garrett (58’)
Referee: Tony Clarke