Carrick Rangers 1-3 Glenavon
Danske Bank Premiership
Loughview Leisure Arena
Saturday 22nd April 2023
Match report by Calum Jones
Glenavon’s fine run of form continued at Taylors Avenue on Saturday afternoon as they came away 3-1 winners over Carrick Rangers.
With the Lurgan Blues having sown up seventh place the previous week, there was little on the line in this match, but that didn’t prevent it from developing into an entertaining encounter, and former Carrick player Andrew Doyle opened the scoring for the visitors in the 32nd minute with a fierce low strike from 20 yards.
Top scorer Matthew Fitzpatrick scored yet again to double Glenavon’s advantage five minutes into the second half, but Rangers halved their deficit two minutes after the hour mark when Nedas Maciulaitis’ attempted cross looped over Rory Brown and into the net.
The hosts applied pressure late on to push for an equaliser, but it was Glenavon who scored again deep into injury time to seal another victory. They broke from a Carrick corner, and young substitute Cohn Henderson found the empty net from close to the halfway line with goalkeeper Ross Glendinning stranded far from his goal.
Truthfully, the opening minutes of the match had a very end-of-season-with-nothing-to-play-for feel about them, but the game did spark into life after a quarter of an hour. Jamie Doran was played in on the right for Glenavon and it appeared as though he had a simple task of squaring the ball for Peter Campbell to tap in. Doran played his pass too far in front of Campbell, however. The loose ball found its way to Jack Malone, whose shot beat the goalkeeper and was headed for the net, only for Reece Glendinning to make a superb block to keep the ball out.
Three minutes later, Campbell whipped over a great cross from the left, but Ben Tilney did well to hold off Doran, and the youngster couldn’t get on the end of it.
Doyle was picked out by Malone from a corner on 20 minutes. The defender’s header rattled off the crossbar.
Doyle did manage to open the scoring against his former club in the 32nd minute. A neat passing move involving Malone and Danny Wallace resulted in the ball finding the feet of Robert Garrett on the left edge of the Carrick penalty area. Garrett cut infield before slipping a pass to Doyle, and the centre-back hit a brilliant first-time low drive with his right foot that flew beyond the static Ross Glendinning and into the net.
Glenavon pushed for a second in the closing minutes of the first half, but Fitzpatrick’s low shot in the 42nd minute was deflected wide of the target, and so the score remained 1-0 at the break.
As it turned out, the second goal did arrive just five minutes after the break, and sure enough it was that man Fitzpatrick who scored it. Wallace carried the ball forward on the left flank before feeding it to Campbell. The winger dribbled infield before passing to Conor McCloskey, who let fly with a wicked shot from 25 yards. Ross Glendinning could only parry the ball down, and the predatory Fitzpatrick pounced to sidefoot into the corner and grab his 19th league goal of the season, and his seventh strike in as many games.
Rangers got themselves back into the game in fortuitous circumstances with 61 minutes on the clock. Lloyd Anderson played a pass out to Maciulaitis on the right. The forward drove towards the byline before attempting to send over a cross. The ball sailed over the head of Glenavon goalkeeper Brown and nestled in the far corner.
Glenavon substitute Henderson was presented with a chance to restore the Lurgan Blues’ two-goal advantage in the 80th minute when he was played through by Campbell, but Ross Glendinning made a good save to deny the sixteen-year-old.
Fitzpatrick might have scored his second goal on 86 minutes when he had an effort from the left corner of the box after Ross Glendinning had come off his line, but the striker’s shot drifted wide of the far post.
Carrick enjoyed a spell of pressure in the dying moments of the game as they pushed for an equalising goal, and the hosts won a series of late corners. Ironically, it was from one of these corners that Glenavon broke away and scored their third to seal victory. Ronan Kalla was attempting to recycle the ball after one of substitute Andrew Mitchell’s corners had been half-cleared by Glenavon, but Henderson picked Kalla’s pocket and surged forward. He cut inside past Kurtis Forsythe and dribbled just over the halfway line before shooting with his right foot. With Ross Glendinning having been sent up for the corner and stranded far from his goal, Henderson’s shot took one bounce before crossing the line and hitting the back of the net. It’s a goal that the young attacker won’t forget in a hurry.
That’s now nine games unbeaten for Gary Hamilton’s in-form side heading towards the Euro play-offs, and seven out of those nine matches have been victories.
Glenavon’s final game of the regular season takes place next Saturday (29th April), as the Lurgan Blues host already-relegated Portadown at Mourneview Park. Kick-off is at 5:30pm.
Carrick Rangers: 1. Ross Glendinning (GK), 3. Cameron Stewart, 4. Mark Surgenor, 7. David Cushley (C), 14. Ronan Kalla, 22. Stewart Nixon, 23. Reece Glendinning, 26. Jamal Dupree, 30. Nedas Maciulaitis, 39. Ben Tilney, 42. Lloyd Anderson
Subs: 2. Kurtis Forsythe (for 26. Jamal Dupree, 46’), 32. James McLaughlin (for 22. Stewart Nixon, 46’), 8. Andrew Mitchell (for 7. David Cushley, 46’), 11. Alexander Gawne (for 30. Nedas Maciulaitis, 63’); not used: 18. Aaron Hogg (GK), 5. James Ervin, 15. Benjamin Buchanan-Rolleston
Goals: 30. Nedas Maciulaitis (62’)
Yellow cards: 39. Ben Tilney (34’), 3. Cameron Stewart (65’), 8. Andrew Mitchell (80’)
Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 6. Andrew Doyle, 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick (C), 10. Peter Campbell, 17. Conor McCloskey, 23. Daniel Wallace, 24. Jamie Doran, 28. Robert Garrett, 29. Jack Malone, 30. Sean Ward
Subs: 34. Cohen Henderson (for 29. Jack Malone, 65’), 25. Aaron Rogers (for 6. Andrew Doyle, 74’), 27. Christopher Atherton (for 17. Conor McCloskey, 74’), 21. Aaron Prendergast (for 24. Jamie Doran, 90’); not used: 7. Matthew Snoddy, 14. Harry Norton, 15. Harry Lynch
Goals: 6. Andrew Doyle (32’), 9. Matthew Fitzpatrick (49’), 34. Cohen Henderson (90+4’)
Yellow cards: 2. Conor Kerr (27’)
Referee: Shane McGonigle