Larne 3-0 Glenavon
Danske Bank Premiership
Friday 10th February 2023
Match report by Calum Jones
Glenavon’s poor away form continued on Friday night as they were beaten 3-0 by Larne at Inver Park.
Leroy Millar struck a double for the home side in the first half, slotting a low finish past Rory Brown in the 14th minute, then blasting past the Glenavon goalkeeper on 41 minutes.
The Lurgan Blues performed better in the early period of the second half, but they failed to find the net, and when top scorer Lee Bonis’ low shot went in off the post in the 74th minute, the three points were sealed for Larne.
Millar managed to squeeze a low shot on target for the home side from a tight angle five minutes into the game, but it was a tame effort, and Brown saved comfortably.
Three minutes later, Peter Campbell found Calum Birney from a corner at the other end of the pitch. The big centre-half headed the ball high and wide when he really should have at least forced Larne goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson into action.
Millar opened the scoring for the home side on 14 minutes. Bonis flicked a long ball on with his head and Danny Wallace and Andrew Ryan challenged for it. It looked like the Glenavon captain may have been the one who got to the ball first, but he inadvertently sent it back towards his own goal and into the path of Millar. The midfielder surged clear of Isaac Baird before calmly slotting a low shot past Brown and into the goal with his left foot.
Bonis and Ryan were both involved again eight minutes later, with the former releasing the latter down the Larne left with a long diagonal pass. Ryan’s shot from a tight angle was on target, but Brown was equal to the effort.
Glenavon chances in the first half were at a premium, but Matthew Fitzpatrick was presented with a shooting opportunity in the 28th minute. Unfortunately for the Lurgan Blues’ top scorer, he dragged his low shot wide of Ferguson’s right-hand post.
Joseph Thomson drove forward threateningly for the hosts on 35 minutes, but in the end his left-foot shot went over the crossbar.
Millar scored his and Larne’s second of the evening in the 41st minute. A slick move saw Micheal Glynn feed a pass into the feet of Bonis, who controlled the ball with the inside of his right foot before sliding a pass into the path of Millar with the outside of his boot. Millar took one touch to set himself before thundering a left-foot shot past Brown and high into the net.
Gary Hamilton made two substitutions shortly after the break in an effort to turn the tide of the game, and the Lurgan Blues did enjoy a better spell in the early part of the second half. Conor Kerr nearly got them back into the game in fortuitous circumstances on 54 minutes when he overhit a cross which came back off the crossbar.
Kerr did well at the other end three minutes later, making a timely interception to deny Bonis a shooting opportunity on the rebound after Brown had saved a low shot from Ryan.
Jordan Stewart, who was making his debut for Glenavon, cut in from the right in the 73rd minute, but the winger’s low shot went harmlessly wide of the far post.
The result was put beyond doubt moments later. Larne captain Tomas Cosgrove slid a pass into the right channel for Bonis to run onto. Sean Ward did all that he could given the circumstances, forcing Bonis wide, but the young striker produced a fine finish, driving a low shot across Brown with his right foot which went in via the far post.
Fitzpatrick might have registered a goal for Glenavon on 85 minutes, but his overhead kick went straight into the arms of Ferguson, and by that stage, it would have been nothing more than a consolation goal anyway.
Larne’s victory sees them move to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership standings ahead of Cliftonville on goal difference, although Paddy McLaughlin’s side will have an opportunity to reclaim top spot when they travel to Windsor Park on Saturday to take on third-placed Linfield.
Defeat for Glenavon, coupled with Carrick Rangers’ 2-0 victory away at Newry City, sees the Lurgan Blues slip down a place to ninth in the table.
Gary Hamilton’s men are in action again on Tuesday night (14th February), playing host to fifth-placed Crusaders. Kick-off at Mourneview Park will be at 7:45pm.
Larne: 1. Rohan Ferguson (GK), 2. Shaun Want, 5. Fuad Sule, 10. Lee Bonis, 15. Aaron Donnelly, 18. Cian Bolger, 19. Joseph Thomson, 21. Leroy Millar, 22. Micheal Glynn, 23. Tomas Cosgrove (C), 29. Andrew Ryan
Subs: 16. Shea Gordon (for 21. Leroy Millar, 46’), 3. Graham Kelly (for 19. Joseph Thomson, 52’), 4. Albert Watson (for 5. Fuad Sule, 66’), 20. Thomas Maguire (for 29. Andrew Ryan, 66’), 9. Paul O’Neill (for 22. Micheal Glynn, 76’); not used: 28. Jamie Pardington (GK), 27. B.J. Banda
Goals: 21. Leroy Millar (14’, 41’), 10. Lee Bonis (74’)
Yellow cards: 15. Aaron Donnelly (57’), 10. Lee Bonis (77’)
Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 4. Calum Birney, 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick, 10. Peter Campbell, 16. Isaac Baird, 23. Daniel Wallace (C), 24. Jamie Doran, 28. Robert Garrett, 30. Sean Ward, 77. Jordan Stewart
Subs: 80. Eoin Bradley (for 16. Isaac Baird, 51’), 7. Matthew Snoddy (for 28. Robert Garrett, 51’); not used: 18. Marc Matthews (GK), 8. Michael O’Connor, 15. Harry Lynch, 21. Aaron Prendergast, 25. Aaron Rogers
Yellow cards: 4. Calum Birney (10’)
Referee: Shane Andrews