Glenavon 3-1 Ballymena United
Danske Bank Premiership
Mourneview Park, Saturday 9th April 2022
Match report by Calum Jones
Glenavon came out on top in a huge match in the battle for seventh place by defeating Ballymena United 3-1 at Mourneview Park on Saturday afternoon in an action-packed encounter which saw two red cards shown and a penalty saved.
It was the visitors who took the lead on 25 minutes when Kym Nelson headed home from a Ross Redman free-kick.
Glenavon responded a minute before the break, with Calum Birney’s header being adjudged to have crossed the line.
Ballymena were awarded a penalty 10 minutes into the second half, while Danny Wallace was also shown a red card for the challenge on Michael Place which resulted in the penalty.
Young goalkeeper Josh Clarke, on his Glenavon debut, made a superb save to deny United captain Leroy Millar from the spot.
The 10 men of Glenavon took the lead on 73 minutes when Peter Campbell curled a brilliant left-foot shot into the far corner.
Campbell grabbed his second and Glenavon’s third just two minutes later by placing a low shot beyond the dive of Ballymena goalkeeper Jordan Williamson and inside the far post.
Millar was shown a red card two minutes into injury time after he’d been given a second yellow following an altercation with Robert Garrett, meaning both sides ended the game with 10 men.
The visitors threatened first, with Joshua Kelly flashing a shot over the bar from 20 yards out on eight minutes.
Jack O’Mahony went on a brilliant run down the left wing in the 22nd minute, outpacing Andy McGrory and driving towards the byline, but the midfielder couldn’t find a teammate with his cross.
Ballymena grabbed the lead on 25 minutes. Redman swung over a free-kick from the left and Nelson dived in front of Matthew Fitzpatrick and steered his header into the bottom corner.
Glenavon managed to draw level a minute before half-time. Conor McCloskey delivered the free-kick from deep, picking out Birney at the back post, and the big centre-half hit the target with a downward header. Initially it appeared that Williamson had made the save, but the linesman flagged to signal that the ball had crossed the line.
James Singleton was brought on as a half-time substitute in place of O’Mahony, and it didn’t take long for the Glenavon captain to get into the thick of the action. He headed wide following a Campbell corner on 47 minutes, while five minutes later his shot flew over the bar after he’d been teed up by Wallace.
The game appeared to take a massive swing in Ballymena’s favour in the 55th minute when the Braidmen were awarded a penalty and Glenavon’s Wallace was shown a straight red card. Kelly flicked a header into the box and Place ran onto the ball. Just as he was preparing to shoot, Wallace barged him to the ground, and referee Robinson pointed to the spot before producing the red card, much to the consternation of the Glenavon left-back.
Ballymena captain Millar stepped up to take the spot-kick. His low shot was well struck and looked to be heading for the bottom corner of the net, but young debutant goalkeeper Clarke had other ideas, as he dived down to his left and produced a fantastic save to keep the scoreline at 1-1.
Clarke’s save proved to be the catalyst for Glenavon to go on and win the game, as the Lurgan Blues really got on the front foot despite being a man down. They got their noses in front on 73 minutes. When the ball entered the Ballymena box, both Fitzpatrick and Singleton battled for it. Eventually it trickled invitingly towards Campbell, and he produced a beautiful first-time shot with his left foot which curled into the far bottom corner. Such was the quality of the strike that Ballymena keeper Williamson couldn’t even attempt to save it. He was simply rooted to the spot.
The Mourneview faithful had barely finished celebrating Campbell’s first goal before he got himself a second. An awkward, looping pass was played out to the winger on the left, but he managed to bring the ball under control as he outpaced McGrory before driving a low shot beyond Williamson and into that same bottom corner to make the score 3-1.
The Lurgan Blues might have scored a fourth goal in the 83rd minute. McCloskey jinked his way into the penalty area on the right before hitting a low shot with his left foot. The ball went agonisingly wide of the far post.
A miserable afternoon for Ballymena was rounded off in injury time when Millar received a second yellow card after tussling with Garrett in the centre circle, and the game finished with both sides down to 10 men.
Glenavon’s victory consolidates their hold on seventh place, as they now sit four points clear of Ballymena with four games remaining. The Lurgan Blues also enjoy a healthy 14-goal advantage over the Sky Blues when it comes to goal difference.
Next Saturday (16th April) sees Gary Hamilton’s men make the trip to Stangmore Park to take on 10th-placed Dungannon Swifts. Kick-off is at 3 PM.
MATCH SPONSOR – Gary Irwin
BALL SPONSOR – The Leather Restoration Company
MAN OF THE MATCH SPONSORS – Brownlow House
Glenavon: 32. Josh Clarke (GK), 4. Calum Birney, 5. Mark Haughey (C), 10. Peter Campbell, 14. Matthew Snoddy, 17. Conor McCloskey, 19. Matthew Fitzpatrick, 21. Jack O’Mahony, 23. Daniel Wallace, 28. Robert Garrett, 30. Sean Ward
Subs: 27. James Singleton (for 21. Jack O’Mahony, 46’); not used: 20. Conor Scannell, 26. Joshua Doyle, 44. Harry Lynch, 46. Harry Norton, 48. James Black, 49. Luca McGreevey Couchman
Goals: 4. Calum Birney (44’), 10. Peter Campbell (73’, 75’)
Yellow cards: 14. Matthew Snoddy (24’), 4. Calum Birney (28’), 32. Josh Clarke (88’), 28. Robert Garrett (90+2’)
Red cards: 23. Daniel Wallace (55’)
Ballymena United: 1. Jordan Williamson (GK), 3. Ross Redman, 8. Joshua Kelly, 10. Ryan Waide, 11. Steven McCullough, 17. Andrew McGrory, 19. David Parkhouse, 23. Leroy Millar (C), 24. Sean Graham, 28. Kym Nelson, 30. Michael Place
Subs: 9. Paul McElroy (for 30. Michael Place, 65’), 22. Conor Keeley (for 3. Ross Redman, 70’), 12. Kenneth Kane (for 24. Sean Graham, 77’); not used: 26. Samuel Johnston (GK), 14. Jack Henderson, 16. Brendan Barr, 25. Malachy Smith
Goals: 28. Kym Nelson (25’)
Yellow cards: 8. Joshua Kelly (40’), 23. Leroy Millar (43’, 90+2’), 3. Ross Redman (65’), 28. Kym Nelson (70’)
Red cards: 23. Leroy Millar
Referee: Jamie Robinson