Glenavon 1-6 Linfield
Danske Bank Premiership
Saturday 14th January 2023
Match report by Calum Jones
Glenavon were thrashed 6-1 by Linfield at Mourneview Park on Saturday afternoon.
Andrew Clarke put the visitors in front on six minutes when his deflected shot beat Rory Brown to find the net.
Conor McCloskey scored a superb equaliser for Glenavon in the 18th minute when he volleyed home from a Conor Kerr pass, and the score remained 1-1 until the break.
It was one-way traffic in the second half, however, with Linfield taking the lead again on 53 minutes when Sam Roscoe drilled a low shot in off the post, and Eetu Vertainen doubled the Blues’ advantage four minutes later when he converted from an Andrew Clarke cross.
Linfield scored their fourth from the penalty spot in the 65th minute, with the impressive Chris Shields converting after Daniel Finlayson had been brought down by Glenavon captain Danny Wallace.
Shields scored a second penalty 14 minutes later, after Aaron Rogers was penalised for handball, to notch a fifth for the visitors.
The scoring was completed on 83 minutes when substitute Max Haygarth curled a low shot into the bottom corner to round off a resounding victory for David Healy’s side.
Glenavon goalkeeper Brown was busy in the early minutes. He did well to hold a free-kick that was whipped in from the left by Kyle McLean in the third minute, while three minutes later he was forced to tip a Joel Cooper cross-cum-shot behind for a corner.
It was from that corner that Linfield opened the scoring. McClean curled the set piece in from the left, Glenavon failed to clear, and the ball eventually fell to Andrew Clarke just inside the penalty area. Clarke’s low right-foot shot took a deflection off Calum Birney and beat Brown to find the net.
The Blues might have doubled their lead five minutes after the opener when Finlayson headed narrowly wide from another McClean corner from the left.
Andrew Clarke had another half chance on 12 minutes, but this time his low shot went wide of the far post.
Glenavon equalised against the run of play in the 18th minute. Matthew Fitzpatrick nodded a header down to find Kerr on the right. The full-back stepped inside Shields and clipped a clever ball into the box to find McCloskey. He struck a super first-time volley with his right foot which beat the dive of Johns and nestled in the bottom corner.
Wallace and Kerr defended well in the 22nd and 31st minutes respectively to cut out threatening Linfield balls into the box, while Brown came up with an outstanding save to keep out a Vertainen header in the 33rd minute. The header wouldn’t have counted anyway, though, as the linesman raised his flag to signal offside, and so the teams went into the break on level terms at 1-1.
Linfield were simply a different animal in the second period. Vertainen might have scored two minutes after the break when the ball fell to him after a Cooper shot was deflected, but the Finnish striker dragged his low shot wide of the target.
In the 52nd minute Birney and Isaac Baird combined to block Andrew Clarke’s shot, but it was only a matter of time before Linfield regained the lead.
As it turned out, their second goal arrived just a minute later. Matthew Clarke delivered a corner from the right, and when Glenavon failed to clear, Roscoe took full advantage, latching onto the ball and drilling a low shot in off the far post from close to the penalty spot with his left foot.
Just four minutes after Roscoe’s goal, Linfield doubled their lead. Finlayson advanced on the right and slipped a pass out to Andrew Clarke, who side-footed a first-time low cross to the edge of the six-yard box to find Vertainen. The striker’s shot was also struck first time, and it flashed past Brown and into the net at the near post to make it 3-1.
Glenavon could offer little in response, although young Baird did manage to find the target with a shot on 62 minutes from just outside the box. The midfielder’s effort was easily saved by Johns, however.
Linfield’s fourth goal arrived in the 64th minute. The classy Shields slid a pass into the feet of Finlayson in the Glenavon penalty area. After turning, Finlayson looked ready to pull the trigger, only for Wallace to come in from behind and attempt a tackle. Contact was made with Finlayson’s right boot, and referee Tony Clarke decided it was enough to warrant a penalty. Shields struck the spot kick, and although Brown dived the right way, to his left, he couldn’t prevent the ball from ending up in the net.
Still Glenavon tried in vain to force their way back into the game. Fitzpatrick’s header from a Campbell corner drifted wide of the right-hand post on 67 minutes, while another Campbell corner six minutes later led to two shooting opportunities for teammates in quick succession, but Linfield defenders managed to snuff out both efforts with blocks.
The Lurgan Blues nearly conceded a fifth goal in calamitous circumstances in the 75th minute. Wallace played a ball back to Brown, only for the goalkeeper to miscontrol it, and it almost trickled into the net.
Two minutes after that, Linfield might have grabbed a fifth in sublime fashion when substitute Jordan Stewart attempted an audacious chip from distance, but the ball floated over Brown’s crossbar.
Fellow Linfield substitute Chris McKee saw his shot stopped by a good save from Brown on 78 minutes, but yet again it looked inevitable that the Blues would add to their lead, and that’s exactly what they did moments later.
Captain Jamie Mulgrew fed a pass out to Andrew Clarke on the right and he hit a first-time cross with his right foot. Rogers cut the ball out, but referee Clarke decided the full-back had done so with his arm, and he pointed to the spot for a second time. Up stepped Shields once more. He put his penalty in virtually the exact same spot, low to the goalkeeper’s left. Like the first time, Brown guessed correctly, but once again he couldn’t keep the ball out of the net, such was the accuracy of Shields’ strike.
Linfield weren’t done yet. Cameron Palmer drove into the right side of the Glenavon penalty area before playing the ball into the feet of McClean, who in turn teed up Haygarth. The substitute curled a low first-time shot beyond the desperate lunges of Wallace and Birney and inside the far post to round off the scoring for Linfield and complete a miserable afternoon for the Lurgan Blues, with the final score reading Glenavon 1-6 Linfield.
Next up for Gary Hamilton’s men, who have slipped back to eighth place in the table, is a trip to Stangmore Park to take on 11th-placed Dungannon Swifts. Kick-off next Saturday (21st January) will be at 3pm.
MATCH SPONSOR – CDF Financial Services
BALL SPONSOR – Roy McStea
MAN OF THE MATCH SPONSOR – Jack Pringle
Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown, 2. Conor Kerr, 4. Calum Birney, 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick, 10. Peter Campbell, 16. Isaac Baird, 17. Conor McCloskey, 21. Aaron Prendergast, 23. Daniel Wallace (C), 25. Aaron Rogers, 28. Robert Garrett
Subs: 80. Eoin Bradley (for 21. Aaron Prendergast, 65’), 7. Matthew Snoddy (for 28. Robert Garrett, 65’), 24. Jamie Doran (for 16. Isaac Baird, 79’), 30. Sean Ward (for 17. Conor McCloskey, 79’), 29. Jack Malone (for 25. Aaron Rogers, 79’); not used: 6. Andrew Doyle, 33. Patrick Burns
Goals: 17. Conor McCloskey (18’)
Yellow cards: 10. Peter Campbell (29’), 23. Daniel Wallace (44’)
Linfield: 1. Christopher Johns (GK), 2. Samuel Roscoe-Byrne, 4. Michael Newberry, 5. Christopher Shields, 8. Kyle McClean, 9. Joel Cooper, 16. Matthew Clarke, 18. Daniel Finlayson, 22. Jamie Mulgrew (C), 23. Eetu Vertainen, 34. Andrew Clarke
Subs: 10. Jordan Stewart (for 23. Eetu Vertainen, 68’), 17. Christopher McKee (for 9. Joel Cooper, 68’), 21. Maxwell Haygarth (for 34. Andrew Clarke, 80’), 35. Cameron Palmer (for 22. Jamie Mulgrew, 80’), 19. Ethan Devine (for 5. Christopher Shields, 83’); not used: 51. David Walsh (GK), 25. Connor Pepper
Goals: 34. Andrew Clarke (6’), 2. Samuel Roscoe-Byrne (53’), 23. Eetu Vertainen (57’), 5. Christopher Shields (65’ (penalty), 79’ (penalty)), 21. Maxwell Haygarth (83’)
Yellow cards: 9. Joel Cooper (45+1’)
Referee: Tony Clarke