Crusaders 3–2 Glenavon
Danske Bank Premiership
Saturday 15th October 2022
Match report by Calum Jones
Despite twice holding the lead, Glenavon ended up on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline in a pulsating game against Crusaders at Seaview on Saturday afternoon.
Eoin Bradley put the Lurgan Blues in front in the 38th minute, only for the in-form Philip Lowry to draw the Crues level a minute before the break.
Glenavon again took the lead five minutes into the second half when Conor Scannell headed home Peter Campbell’s cross, but Crusaders substitute Adam Lecky proved to be the match–winner, as his quickfire brace in the 64th and 69th minutes secured the three points for the home side.
Jonathan McMurray was first to threaten for the hosts, but his low left-foot shot in the opening minute of the match went wide of Rory Brown’s left-hand post.
On 14 minutes at the other end of the pitch Matthew Fitzpatrick sent a dangerous low cross into the Crusaders box from the right flank. Chris Hegarty did well to clear the ball.
Glenavon goalkeeper Brown failed to hold a Ross Clarke corner in the 17th minute after being put under pressure, but Calum Birney was on hand to clear the loose ball.
The impressive Campbell picked out Fitzpatrick with a delivery from a free kick on 26 minutes. The striker managed to direct his header on target, but Jonny Tuffey was able to dive to his right and make the save.
Campbell was involved again two minutes later when he tapped a free kick to Jack Malone so the midfielder could have a pop at goal. Again Tuffey was equal to the effort.
Crusaders captain Billy Joe Burns came close to breaking the deadlock in the 29th minute. He struck a shot with the outside of his right foot from just outside the box which went narrowly over the crossbar.
Dean Ebbe missed a great chance for the home side seven minutes later. The ball fell invitingly to him in the box, but he blazed over the bar from close range.
It was Glenavon who grabbed the lead on 38 minutes. Scannell whipped over a corner from the left which struck the crossbar before falling at the feet of Campbell. The winger turned the ball goalwards and there was Bradley to flick it into the net from a yard out.
The Lurgan Blues might have doubled their lead five minutes later. Again Scannell delivered a ball into the box, this time from a free kick. Young midfielder Isaac Baird headed over at the back post.
Lowry, who was recently named Premiership player of the month for September, drew Crusaders level just a minute before half-time. Burns delivered a free kick from deep, and Lowry outjumped both Scannell and Conor Kerr to win the ball, sending a looping header beyond the dive of Brown and into the far corner.
Two minutes into the second period the hosts nearly took the lead in fortuitous circumstances when Clarke’s mishit cross almost found the net. Luckily for Glenavon Kerr was there to clear the ball off the line.
The Lurgan Blues found themselves ahead for a second time on 50 minutes, and it was through a goal of real quality. Sean Ward drove forward from the back and fed the ball into the feet of Fitzpatrick, who in turn spread it wide to Campbell on the left. He took one touch to set himself before whipping a cross to the far post, and there was Scannell to nod the ball home.
In the minutes following Scannell’s goal Glenavon threatened to take the game away from Crusaders. In the 53rd minute Campbell flicked a header on to find Bradley, with the striker’s shot going over the top, while five minutes after that Campbell sent in a great cross from the left which Fitzpatrick almost managed to get on the end of.
Midway through the second half the tide of the game began to turn in favour of the Crues, however, and half-time substitute Adam Lecky drew the home side level for a second time in the 64th minute. After Jarlath O’Rourke had sent over an inswinging corner from the rightBrown managed to get his gloves to the ball and attempted to punch it clear. He only succeeded in sending the ball straight up in the air, though, and Lecky leapt to meet it and headed into the net from inside the six-yard box.
Glenavon came close to going ahead yet again just a minute after Lecky’s goal. Campbell was at the heart of the action once more. He crossed from the left to find Bradley, who got a faint touch on the ball but couldn’t direct it on target. In truth, the striker probably should have done better.
It was the Crues who took the lead for the first time on 69 minutes. Jordan Forsythe swept a ball out to McCauley Snelgrove on the left. The substitute crossed into the box to find Lecky. The big striker got a large slice of luck when his first touch bounced down into the 4G surface and over the head of Birney, but the finish was emphatic, as Lecky thumped a volley into the far corner with his left foot to make it 3-2.
Lecky might have had a hat-trick a minute later when he hit the target with a low shot, but Brown was able to deny him with a save.
On 77 minutes the Glenavon goalkeeper had to make three stops in quick succession to prevent Crusaders from doubling their lead, first from Lecky and then twice from his fellow substitute Jordan Owens.
Brown thwarted Lecky again a minute later, diving down to his right to make a great save to keep out the striker’s well-struck low shot.
Glenavon were still in the hunt for an equaliser, and in the 80th minute Campbell found Fitzpatrick with a cross from the left, but the number nine’s header went harmlessly over Tuffey’s crossbar.
Lowry came close to putting the game to bed on 82 minutes when his shot from distance nearly found the top corner.
Glenavon had appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Ross Dunlop in the dying moments of the game. Substitute Josh Doyle went down under a challenge from Lecky, but Dunlop decided it wasn’t a foul, and so the game finished 3-2 to Crusaders.
Glenavon are in action again on Tuesday night (18th October), when they travel to Windsor Park to take on Linfield in a rearranged league fixture. Kick-off will be at 7:45pm.
Crusaders: 33. Jonathan Tuffey (GK), 2. William Joseph Burns (C), 3. Christopher Hegarty, 6. Robert Weir, 7. Philip Lowry, 10. Dean Ebbe, 14. Jordan Forsythe, 15. Jarlath O’Rourke, 20. Daniel Larmour, 25. Ross Clarke, 27. Jonathan McMurray
Subs: 19. Jude Winchester (for 27. Jonathan McMurray, 46’), 9. Adam Lecky (for 10. Dean Ebbe, 46’), 18. Jordan Owens (for 6. Robert Weir, 60’), 24. McCauley Snelgrove (for 2. William Joseph Burns, 60’); not used: 1. Tom Murphy (GK), 23. Rory Paul McKeown, 43. Lewis Barr
Goals: 7. Philip Lowry (44’), 9. Adam Lecky (64’, 69’)
Yellow cards: 6. Robert Weir (23’)
Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 4. Calum Birney, 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick, 10. Peter Campbell, 16. Isaac Baird, 20. Conor Scannell, 23. Daniel Wallace (C), 29. Jack Malone, 30. Sean Ward, 80. Eoin Bradley
Subs: 17. Conor McCloskey (for 80. Eoin Bradley, 74’), 21. Aaron Prendergast (for 20. Conor Scannell, 74’), 7. Matthew Snoddy (for 29. Jack Malone, 81’), 26. Joshua Doyle (for 2. Conor Kerr, 86’); not used: 15. Harry Lynch, 24. Jamie Doran, 28. Robert Garrett
Goals: 80. Eoin Bradley (38’), 20. Conor Scannell (50’)
Yellow cards: 2. Conor Kerr (68’)
Referee: Ross Dunlop