Glenavon 1-3 Cliftonville

Danske Bank Premiership

Mourneview Park

Tuesday 24th January 2023

Match report by Calum Jones

A Glenavon side depleted by injuries and suspensions was defeated 3-1 by league leaders Cliftonville at Mourneview Park on Tuesday evening.

David Parkhouse opened the scoring for the visitors in the 14th minute when he converted after Luke Turner had nodded down a Levi Ives free kick.

Cliftonville’s second didn’t arrive until 75 minutes, with former Glenavon player Colin Coates heading home from a Ronan Doherty cross.

Glenavon gave themselves a glimmer of hope of rescuing a point from the game when Matthew Fitzpatrick turned in a Peter Campbell free kick in the 89th minute, but the Reds wrapped up their victory in the second minute of stoppage time as substitute Joe Gormley teed up Ronan Hale for a tap-in.

Glenavon started the game brightly enough, and a good spell of possession on nine minutes resulted in a shooting opportunity for Robert Garrett, but the midfielder could only send his right-foot shot well over the bar from 25 yards out.

Three minutes later, Aaron Rogers found Campbell on the left and the winger sent in a dangerous low cross, but Cliftonville defended it well. From the resulting corner, again the ball fell to Garrett to have a shot from distance, but the result was the same, with the effort clearing the crossbar.

Cliftonville broke the deadlock 14 minutes in. Captain Ives sent a free kick deep to the far post, where Turner won the header and teed up Parkhouse, who lashed home from six yards with his left foot.

Jack Malone and Aaron Prendergast had opportunities to hit back for Glenavon in quick succession in the 32nd minute. When Malone mishit his shot it fell kindly for Prendergast, but the young striker volleyed wide when he really should have hit the target.

Rogers picked Snoddy out at the near post with a cross from the left flank 10 minutes later, but the midfielder was unable to direct his header goalward.

One final half chance in the opening 45 fell the way of Campbell in the closing minute of the first half, but his low shot drifted wide of the far post.

Cliftonville carried more of a threat in the second half, and Garrett did well to block a Rory Hale shot in the 52nd minute, while captain Danny Wallace had to be alert to clear the ball when Sean Moore squared it after having rounded young goalkeeper Marc Matthews on 69 minutes.

Ronan Hale was unfortunate not to double the Reds’ advantage on 71 minutes when he let fly with a screamer of a shot from 25 yards which cannoned off the crossbar.

Wallace picked Fitzpatrick out with a long ball into the Cliftonville penalty area in the 74th minute. The forward managed to bring the ball down, but before he could get a shot off, Ives came across to intercept and snuff out the danger.

The visitors doubled their lead just a minute later. Doherty curled over a cross from the right and Coates rose highest to meet it on the six-yard line. Matthews did get something on the ball, but the goalkeeper couldn’t prevent it from crossing the line.

The Reds thought they had grabbed a third goal on 80 minutes when Rory Hale rounded Matthews and tapped into an empty net after he had been played through by Moore, but the linesman raised his flag to rule it out for offside.

Young Matthews produced a trio of smart saves in the 83rd, 85th and 88th minutes, first keeping out a Ronan Hale header from close range, then pushing a well-struck Moore shot behind for a corner, and finally diving down low to deny Moore once more following a mazy run from the exciting winger.

Glenavon gave themselves hope of salvaging something from the game when they halved their deficit on 89 minutes. Campbell curled in a free kick from the right, and Fitzpatrick nipped in ahead of Coates and managed to squeeze the ball into the net at the near post.

The Lurgan Blues’ squad was so depleted by injuries and suspensions that manager Gary Hamilton named himself on the substitutes bench alongside two 16-year-olds and four 18-year-olds. The 42-year-old player-manager hoped to roll back the years when he brought himself on in the first minute of added time, but as it turned out, it was a Cliftonville substitute, in the form of Gormley, who impacted the game in the dying minutes. The striker did well to chase down what looked like a lost cause near the byline before nodding the ball away from Conor Kerr, then laying it back to Ronan Hale, who had the simple task of tapping in to seal the three points for the table toppers.

Having suffered defeat in each of their last three matches, Glenavon will be desperate to get back to winning ways on Saturday (28th January) when they travel to Taylors Avenue to take on Carrick Rangers. The game takes on even greater significance when you consider that the Lurgan Blues sit just one place and two points above ninth-placed Rangers in the league table. Kick-off will be at 3pm.

MATCH SPONSOR – Wee Paddy’s Sandwich Bar/S.O.S Drainage N.I.

BALL SPONSOR – The Last of the Cornerboys

MAN OF THE MATCH SPONSOR – Marc Woods and Colin McCusker

Glenavon: 18. Marc Matthews (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick, 21. Aaron Prendergast, 23. Daniel Wallace (C), 25. Aaron Rogers, 28. Robert Garrett, 29. Jack Malone, 30. Sean Ward

Subs: 40. Gary Hamilton (for 7. Matthew Snoddy, 90+1’); not used: 14. Harry Norton, 15. Harry Lynch, 24. Jamie Doran, 32. Bobby Harvey, 37. Liam Corr, 39. Patrick Shearer

Goals: 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick (89’)

Yellow cards: 23. Daniel Wallace (62’), 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick (70’)

Cliftonville: 16. Nathan Gartside (GK), 3. Levi Ives (C), 6. Christopher Gallagher, 8. Rory Hale, 10. David Parkhouse, 13. Kris Lowe, 17. Ronan Doherty, 24. Luke Turner, 25. Ronan Hale, 26. Colin Coates, 38. Sean Moore

Subs: 19. Joseph Gormley (for 10. David Parkhouse, 77’), 22. Odhran Casey (for 8. Rory Hale, 83’); not used: 32. Gerard Doherty (GK), 7. Christopher Curran, 9. Ryan Curran, 11. Jamie McDonagh, 14. Jamie Robinson

Goals: 10. David Parkhouse (14’), 26. Colin Coates (75’), 25. Ronan Hale (90+2’)

Yellow cards: None

Referee: Christopher Morrison