Glenavon Under-18s 1 Linfield Rangers 0

Lurgan Junior High School

Friday 31st March 2023

On Friday night Glenavon Under-18s defeated N.I.F.L. Under-18 Academy League leader Linfield 1-0. Second-half substitute Harry Bownes scored the winning goal from a 67th minute corner-kick.

Under-16s Head Coach Tim Lennon, in charge of the Under-18s in the absence of John Savage, was pleased with the young Blues’ efforts. “It was a great result for us,” said Tim, “but it wasn’t a surprise. We have some talented lads. Sometimes they lack a bit of confidence. That’s something we are trying to improve. Tonight, we matched Linfield for effort all over the pitch and, in the end, got the goal that we deserved.”

Lennon revealed that the Glenavon line-up included five Under-16s – Alex Booth, Rhys Crooks, Calum Hamilton, John Hawthorne and Charlie McShane. “These are players who have another two full seasons at this age level,” added Lennon. “They have been exceptional for the Under-16s and all performed well tonight.”

The match, played in persistent rain, had its fair share of goalmouth incident.

Glenavon’s best scoring opportunity in the first half fell to Rhys Crooks. The young striker burst through on the right, but Linfield goalkeeper Jack Wilkins narrowed the angle and saved well with his legs. Talented midfielder Cameron Sutherland also shot narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty area. Calum Hamilton threatened the visitors’ rearguard with a penetrating run, but a defender made a well-timed tackle as he prepared to shoot.

Linfield also had first half chances. Jude Healy, lurking at the near post, connected with a cross from the left but Se Ferris saved well. Then Matthew Deeney clipped the ball over Ferris’ head from 20 yards. Thankfully, for Glenavon, the audacious chip landed on the netting behind the goal.

The visitors, on a run of eight successive league wins, dominated the early second half exchanges. Jude Healy’s well struck shot was blocked and hacked clear. Then James Bleakley climbed high from a corner and directed his header goalward. Fortunately, defender Aaron Mills was well placed to kick the ball off the line and save a certain goal.

Glenavon gradually began to re-establish itself in the contest. After several misdirected goal attempts, Harry Bownes, a 60th minute replacement for Dylan Alexander, stamped his mark on proceedings.

When a corner on the left deceived Linfield goalkeeper Wilkins, Bownes got an upper body touch and the ball flew into the net, ricocheting off a defender on the way. It was a somewhat untidy strike but no less important for that.

Linfield Rangers pushed hard for an equaliser but the home side’s defence, impressive throughout, conceded nothing.

Glenavon remains in 12th place in the 16-team N.I.F.L. Under-18s Academy League.

GLENAVON: Se Ferris, Alexander Booth, Ashley Beckett, Rhys Crooks, Calum Hamilton, Cameron Sutherland, Charlie McShane, Aaron Mills, Ronan McAlinden, Dylan Alexander, Lewis McMaster, SUBS: Elliot Hunter, Matthew Morris for Alexander Booth (half-time), Harry Bownes for Dylan Alexander (60 mins), Chris Heasley for Rhys Crooks (58 mins) and Tom Hawthorne.for Calum Hamilton (46 mins).

LINFIELD RANGERS: Jack Wilkins, Ben McFarland, Callum Cowan, James Bleakley, Kielan Reid, Liam Burns, Odhran O’Kane, Nikhil McFaul, Matthew Deeney, Jude Healy, Reece Lyttle, SUBS: Kai McCormick (not used), Matthew Orr for Odhran O’Kane (58 mins), Matthew Gavan for Nikhil McFaul (45 mins) and Jay Gamble (not used).

REFEREE: Glenn Buchanan.

Harry Bownes, Glenavon’s matchwinner.

Harry Bownes, Glenavon’s matchwinner.