Glenavon 1-1 Dungannon Swifts
Danske Bank Premiership
Friday 7th April 2023
Match report by Calum Jones
Glenavon’s winning run was halted by Dungannon Swifts at Mourneview Park on Good Friday evening, with the Lurgan Blues having to settle for a 1-1 draw.
Top scorer Matthew Fitzpatrick found the net for the fourth consecutive match in the eighth minute to give the home side an early lead when he capitalised on a Dean Curry error.
In what was a scrappy game, Glenavon were punished for their failure to find a second goal when Dungannon substitute Corey Smith headed in an equaliser from a James Knowles corner on 82 minutes.
Despite failing to win for the first time in five attempts, the result does extend Glenavon’s unbeaten run to six matches, and the Lurgan Blues actually gained a point over both Carrick Rangers and Ballymena United in the race for seventh place and a spot in the UEFA Europa Conference League play-offs.
Glenavon captain Fitzpatrick was gifted his 17th goal of the season by Curry with just seven minutes on the clock. Jack Malone clipped a ball over the top from the left flank and it looked like Curry had a simple task to deal with it, but the Swifts defender under-hit an attempted pass back to goalkeeper Declan Dunne, allowing Fitzpatrick to latch onto the loose ball and slot a first-time shot beyond Dunne and into the bottom corner to open the scoring.
Malone very nearly added a second goal for the hosts just two minutes later when he cracked a shot off the upright from just outside the box. When the ball rebounded towards Fitzpatrick, the linesman raised his flag for offside.
Again Glenavon came close to adding a second goal in the 18th minute. Matthew Snoddy crossed from the right and Fitzpatrick helped the ball on its way to find Cohen Henderson. The 16-year-old debutant caught a half-volley sweetly with his right foot, but the ball just cleared the crossbar.
Dungannon momentarily thought they had got themselves on level terms on 35 minutes. Former Glenavon player Jordan Jenkins found the net with his shot from inside the penalty area, but the strike was ruled out for a foul on Glenavon’s Michael O’Connor in the build-up.
Fitzpatrick came close to grabbing his and Glenavon’s second of the evening in first-half stoppage time when he met a Malone free-kick with a glancing header. The ball was heading for the far bottom corner, only for Dunne to dive down to his left and push it past the post, and so it was 1-0 to the Lurgan Blues at half-time.
Jamie Doran saw his snapshot flash wide of Dunne’s left-hand post four minutes after the break for Glenavon.
There was a real lack of quality in the game as the second half wore on, although Jenkins did have two shooting opportunities for the Swifts midway through the second period. He dragged a low shot wide of goal in the 62nd minute, before finding the target with another effort six minutes later. It lacked any venom, however, and goalkeeper Rory Brown dived to his left to make a routine save.
Brown faced a much more testing effort in the 73rd minute when the away side won a free kick in a threatening position. James Knowles’ curling right-foot shot cleared the wall before dipping to hit the target. Brown had to dive to his right to palm the ball behind for a corner.
It was Knowles who provided the assist for Dungannon’s equalising goal. The midfielder swung in a corner from the left on 81 minutes and substitute Smith rose unchallenged just inside the six-yard box to glance his header into the net and make it 1-1.
Neither side really looked like finding a winner in the dying minutes of the match, and on the balance of play a point was probably a fair enough outcome.
Results elsewhere went in favour of Glenavon, with ninth-placed Ballymena United losing 1-0 away to bottom club Portadown, while Carrick Rangers, who occupy eighth spot in the league standings, were beaten 2-0 at home to Newry City.
Glenavon remain seventh, five points clear of Rangers, and 10 ahead of Irish Cup finalists United, whom the Lurgan Blues host on Easter Tuesday (11th April). Kick-off at Mourneview Park for that game will be at 7:45pm.
MATCH SPONSOR – Mbroidery and Martin Foye
BALL SPONSOR – The Maxwell Family Banbridge
MAN OF THE MATCH SPONSOR – Barry Craig and Ethna Ferran
Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 7. Matthew Snoddy, 8. Michael O’Connor, 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick (C), 16. Isaac Baird, 23. Daniel Wallace, 24. Jamie Doran, 25. Aaron Rogers, 29. Jack Malone, 30. Sean Ward, 34. Cohen Henderson
Subs: 21. Aaron Prendergast (for 34. Cohen Henderson, 74’), 4. Calum Birney (for 23. Daniel Wallace, 74’), 17. Conor McCloskey (for 8. Michael O’Connor, 86’); not used: 18. Marc Matthews (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 6. Andrew Doyle, 80. Eoin Bradley
Goals: 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick (8’)
Yellow cards: 23. Daniel Wallace (21’), 8. Michael O’Connor (53’)
Dungannon Swifts: 1. Declan Dunne (GK), 5. Caolan Marron, 6. James Knowles, 8. Ryan Mayse (C), 10. Michael O’Connor, 17. Cahal McGinty, 19. Marc Walsh, 23. Michael Ruddy, 27. Ethan McGee, 32. Jordan Jenkins
Subs: 39. Padraig Lynch (for 19. Marc Walsh, 65’), 26. Corey Smith (for 32. Jordan Jenkins, 74’), 9. Joseph McCready (for 8. Ryan Mayse, 90’), 30. Joseph Moore (for 10. Michael O’Connor, 90’); not used: 18. Dwayne Nelson (GK), 21. Oran O’Kane, 35. Mayowa Animasahun
Goals: 26. Corey Smith (82’)
Yellow cards: 5. Caolan Marron (45’)
Referee: Declan Hassan