Linfield 2-1 Glenavon

Danske Bank Premiership

Windsor Park

Saturday 12th November 2022

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon’s impressive unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday afternoon as they lost 2-1 to Linfield at Windsor Park.

For the second time in the space of a month the Lurgan Blues saw a lead slip away at the National Stadium, with all three goals coming in the second half as reigning champions Linfield came from behind to secure the victory.

Micheal Glynn gave the visitors the lead on 58 minutes with a fierce left-foot drive, but Linfield hit back 11 minutes later through Daniel Finlayson before former Glenavon striker Robbie McDaid scored the winner in the 86th minute.

Linfield enjoyed more of the ball in the opening exchanges without really carving out any chances.

Indeed, the first effort of note came from Glenavon on 13 minutes when Glynn struck his shot well. Linfield goalkeeper Chris Johns failed to hold it initially but managed to gather at the second attempt.

Rory Brown made an exceptional save to deny McDaid an opener in the 15th minute. Matthew Clarke squared the ball for the striker, who met it just inside the six-yard box and looked certain to score. Brown somehow managed to keep McDaid’s shot out, diving to his left to make what will surely go down as one of the saves of the season.

Joel Cooper looked lively for Linfield before he was forced off through injury on 34 minutes, and the winger almost broke the deadlock in the 19th minute of the match. He cut in from the right and shot from just outside the box, with his left-foot effort going narrowly over the bar.

Glenavon captain Danny Wallace got on the end of a Glynn corner on 25 minutes and sent a glancing header towards the back post, but no Glenavon player could get on the end of it.

Wallace had a great opportunity to pick a teammate out two minutes later when Peter Campbell slipped him in on the left side of the penalty area, but the defender got his cross wrong and the chance slipped away.

Glynn hit the target again with another low shot in first-half injury time, but on this occasion it was a simple save for Johns.

Linfield’s Cameron Palmer came close to scoring three minutes after the break with a wicked shot from the left corner of the penalty area, but the ball drifted just wide of the far post.

Two minutes after that, Andrew Doyle made a brilliant last-gasp block to deny Chris McKee and divert the ball behind for a corner, but the Glenavon defender injured himself in the process and was forced to leave the field five minutes later.

From the resulting corner there was a crazy goalmouth scramble. Glenavon somehow managed to keep the ball out of the net before Brown eventually smothered it.

Glenavon grabbed the lead in the 58th minute through a sweet strike from Glynn. Campbell slipped a pass inside to Glynn from the right flank and Glenavon’s number three carried it forward a few yards before hitting a wicked shot with his left foot which flew past the fully stretched Johns and inside the goalkeeper’s left-hand post.

Linfield very nearly hit back just four minutes after Glynn’s goal. Substitute Kirk Millar whipped over a free kick from the right and Jimmy Callacher met it with a thumping header. Luckily for the Lurgan Blues the ball glanced the crossbar before going behind for a goal kick.

The home side did manage to draw level in the 69th minute, however. Again it was a Millar free kick which found the head of Callacher. This time the centre-half elected to head the ball across the six-yard box rather than attempt to score himself, and Finlayson was on hand to convert and make the score 1-1.

Buoyed by their equaliser, Linfield went in search of a second. The Blues broke down the left after a Glenavon corner on 71 minutes. Substitute Eetu Vertainen squared to find McDaid, but his connection was poor, and Brown was able to save the tame shot.

Glenavon saw appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Tim Marshall two minutes later when Glynn went down under a challenge from Johns.

McDaid looked more and more dangerous for the home side as the second half wore on. He pulled the ball back to find Vertainen in the 74th minute, but the Finnish player shot straight at Brown.

Moments later, McDaid outpaced Conor Kerr on the left flank before crossing to find Vertainen again. This time the striker steered his shot wide of the far post when the goal was at his mercy.

Chris Shields was influential for Linfield after his introduction as a substitute. The classy midfielder slipped a pass into the box to find Andrew Clarke, who blazed over to waste another glorious opportunity on 77 minutes.

In the 85th minute Glenavon fans were hoping for a repeat of Glynn’s earlier heroics when he created space for himself to have a shot on goal from a similar position to the one from which he’d scored earlier in the match, but on this occasion his effort flew over the crossbar.

Linfield scored the winner a minute after that Glynn shot. Johns launched a goal kick forward and Vertainen rose to win the header and nod the ball down to the feet of McDaid. The ex-Glenavon player brought the ball under control and turned before setting himself for a shot. His right-foot strike from 25 yards was powerful and accurate enough to beat the dive of Brown and find the bottom corner.

Glenavon’s best chance to find an equaliser came in stoppage time when substitute Mark Haughey got on the end of a Glynn corner. Having sent Brown upfield to try and cause problems for the Linfield defenders, the Glenavon goalkeeper instead appeared to only put off his teammate, and Haughey’s header ended up drifting harmlessly wide.

After seeing a four-game unbeaten run come to an end, Gary Hamilton will he hoping his men can bounce back for a massive game against Coleraine. The Lurgan Blues, currently occupying seventh place in the league table, welcome the sixth-placed Bannsiders to Mourneview Park next Saturday (19th November), with four points separating the sides in the standings. Kick-off will be at 3pm.

Linfield: 1. Christopher Johns (GK), 2. Samuel Roscoe-Byrne, 6. Jimmy Callacher, 9. Joel Cooper, 14. Robbie McDaid, 16. Matthew Clarke, 17. Christopher McKee, 18. Daniel Finlayson, 22. Jamie Mulgrew (C), 34. Andrew Clarke, 35. Cameron Palmer

Subs: 7. Kirk Millar (for 9. Joel Cooper, 34’), 5. Christopher Shields (for 35. Cameron Palmer, 63’), 23. Eetu Vertainen (for 17. Christopher McKee, 63’), 19. Ethan Devine (for 14. Robbie McDaid, 90’), 8. Kyle McClean (for 22. Jamie Mulgrew, 90’); not used: 51. David Walsh (GK), 4. Michael Newberry

Goals: 18. Daniel Finlayson (69’), 14. Robbie McDaid (86’)

Yellow cards: 5. Christopher Shields (90’), 23. Eetu Vertainen (90+2’)

Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 3. Micheal Glynn, 6. Andrew Doyle, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 10. Peter Campbell, 16. Isaac Baird, 21. Aaron Prendergast, 23. Daniel Wallace (C), 26. Joshua Doyle, 30. Sean Ward

Subs: 5. Mark Haughey (for 6. Andrew Doyle, 55’), 80. Eoin Bradley (for 26. Joshua Doyle, 70’), 17. Conor McCloskey (for 21. Aaron Prendergast, 70’), 20. Conor Scannell (for 2. Conor Kerr, 90+5’); not used: 8. Michael O’Connor, 24. Jamie Doran, 28. Robert Garrett

Goals: 3. Micheal Glynn (58’)

Yellow cards: 1. Rory Brown (84’), 3. Micheal Glynn (87’)

Referee: Tim Marshall