Glenavon 2-1 Coleraine
Danske Bank Premiership
Saturday 18th March 2023
Match report by Calum Jones
Glenavon’s good run of form continued on Saturday as they came from behind to defeat Coleraine 2-1 at Mourneview Park, securing a third successive victory in the process.
The Bannsiders went ahead on 26 minutes when Andrew Scott took advantage of a poor error from Glenavon goalkeeper Rory Brown and rolled the ball into an empty net.
Glenavon were on top for large periods of the game, but they didn’t find an equaliser until the 69th minute, when Matthew Fitzpatrick slammed home from an Aaron Prendergast cross.
The comeback was completed on 84 minutes, as substitute Michael O’Connor coolly steered a shot beyond two Coleraine defenders and goalkeeper Gareth Deane to find the net after he’d been teed up by Fitzpatrick.
Coleraine put Glenavon under a spell of pressure in the opening minutes of the match, but they failed to threaten Brown’s goal.
The first meaningful effort of the game came at the other end of the pitch in the seventh minute. Conor McCloskey latched onto a loose ball, but in the end he could only flash a low right-foot shot wide of Deane’s right-hand post.
McCloskey was involved again 10 minutes later when he slipped a pass through for Fitzpatrick on the right. The striker struck his low shot well with his right foot, but Deane was equal to the effort, diving down to his right to make a good save.
Coleraine grabbed the lead against the run of play on 26 minutes, and it is a goal that Brown will not want to see again. The Glenavon goalkeeper mishit an attempted clearance which came straight back to him via the head of a Coleraine midfielder. Just as Brown was preparing to launch the ball downfield again, he lost his footing close to the right touchline. Scott closed Brown down to pressurise him, and when the goalkeeper tried to cut across the Coleraine attacker, Scott pinched the ball from him before carrying it into the Glenavon penalty area and rolling it into an empty net.
Brown went some way to making amends for his error on 35 minutes when he denied Conor McKendry with a save. The Coleraine winger cut inside Danny Wallace on the left flank before firing in a low shot at the near post. Brown dived down to his right and got a strong hand to the ball to keep it out.
Three minutes after that, a good Glenavon move resulted in a shooting opportunity for McCloskey from distance, but he dragged his low shot wide of the target, and so it was the away side who went into the break a goal to the good.
Two minutes into the second half sponsors’ man of the match Isaac Baird won the ball on the right flank before picking out McCloskey with a cross. He directed his header on target, but it was a comfortable save for Deane.
McCloskey had a pop at goal from a free kick in the 53rd minute. Deane dived to his left to save the shot, but when he failed to gather the ball it left Wallace with a shooting opportunity. His effort was deflected behind. Rogers delivered the resulting corner and found Jamie Doran at the back post. The young midfielder saw his shot cleared off the line by former Glenavon player Jack O’Mahony.
Moments later Scott picked McKendry out with a long diagonal pass into the Glenavon penalty area. Brown stood tall and made the save.
The Glenavon goalkeeper was called into action again two minutes after the hour mark. Coleraine substitute Eamon Fyfe hit a wicked shot, and Brown had to dive at full stretch to make the save. Matthew Shevlin followed up and looked certain to score, only for Sean Ward to deny him with an excellent block.
Glenavon finally got on the scoresheet on 69 minutes. Substitutes O’Connor and Prendergast combined on the right, with the former slipping a pass out to the latter. Prendergast drove in a low first-time cross to pick out Fitzpatrick, and the Glenavon captain in turn struck his shot first time, thumping a low effort into the net to put the Lurgan Blues back on level terms.
Fitzpatrick hit the target again in the 80th minute, this time with a header after he’d been picked out with a ball from deep from the excellent Robert Garrett. Glenavon’s top scorer couldn’t generate enough power to trouble Deane, however.
It did seem that it would only be a matter of time before Glenavon found a winning goal, though, and that proved to be the case on 84 minutes. Garrett hooked a long ball forward from close to the halfway line which Doran chased into the Coleraine box. The young midfielder won the battle with Conor McDermott to gain control of the ball, then he squared it to Fitzpatrick. The Glenavon captain took one touch to control it before teeing up the oncoming O’Connor. The substitute might have smashed it when he met the ball just inside the 18-yard line, but instead he calmly curled a shot beyond Deane and two Bannsiders’ defenders and inside the post to give Glenavon a deserved lead.
The Premiership’s top scorer Matthew Shevlin did produce a couple of nervy moments for Glenavon supporters in the dying minutes of the game. First, he glanced a header wide on 87 minutes, while in the final minute of normal time, the striker fired a left-foot shot wide of Brown’s right-hand post. The Lurgan Blues held on for the win, however, their third on the bounce.
Glenavon’s victory, coupled with Carrick’s defeat at the hands of Glentoran, sees Gary Hamilton’s side leapfrog Rangers to move up to seventh place in the league table.
Next Saturday (25th March) sees Glenavon travel to ninth-placed Ballymena United for what will be the final game before the split. Kick-off is at 3pm.
MATCH SPONSOR – In Memory of MRT
BALL SPONSOR – Kuba Creative
MAN OF THE MATCH SPONSOR – Brownlow House
Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick (C), 16. Isaac Baird, 17. Conor McCloskey, 23. Daniel Wallace, 24. Jamie Doran, 25. Aaron Rogers, 28. Robert Garrett, 29. Jack Malone, 30. Sean Ward
Subs: 21. Aaron Prendergast (for 29. Jack Malone, 66’), 8. Michael O’Connor (for 17. Conor McCloskey, 66’), 6. Andrew Doyle (for 24. Jamie Doran, 90+1’); not used: 18. Marc Matthews (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 14. Harry Norton, 15. Harry Lynch
Goals: 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick (69’), 8. Michael O’Connor (84’)
Yellow cards: 16. Isaac Baird (16’), 28. Robert Garrett (74’)
Coleraine: 1. Gareth Deane (GK), 3. Dean Jarvis, 7. Conor McKendry, 11. Joshua Carson, 14. Kieran Farren, 15. Stephen O’Donnell (C), 17. Jamie Glackin, 21. Jack O’Mahony, 25. Conor McDermott, 26. Matthew Shevlin, 29. Andrew Scott
Subs: 13. Eamon Fyfe (for 7. Conor McKendry, 60’), 16. Lee Lynch (for 21. Jack O’Mahony, 79’); not used: 20. Martin Gallagher (GK), 4. Adam Mullan, 5. Rodney Brown, 10. Michael McCrudden, 50. Luca Doherty
Goals: 29. Andrew Scott (26’)
Yellow cards: None
Referee: Jamie Robinson