Glenavon Under-18s 2 Portadown Under-18s 0

Mourneview Park, Lurgan

Friday 21st April 2023

Glenavon U-18s defeated Portadown U-18s 2-0 to win the Mid-Ulster Youth Cup.

Dylan Alexander scored the first goal in the 44th minute. Late in the second half Jadon Morgan added a second.

The final was watched by a sizeable crowd.

“I thought we were really good,” said Blues’ boss John Savage. “Defensively we were superb. Centre backs Daniel Dillon and Charlie McShane were outstanding. Midfield was always on top. Cameron Sutherland was excellent. In attack Jesse Turner and Dylan Alexander caused them a lot of problems.”

Glenavon made the better start and controlled most of the first half. Jesse Turner forced Ports keeper Darren Beattie to move sharply to save a right foot shot hit from an acute angle. Then Aaron Mills’ lob sailed over the crossbar.

In the 17th minute Lewis McMaster almost deceived Beattie with a cross cum shot from fully 45 yards which the Ports’ custodian finger-tipped onto the crossbar. From the resultant corner Cameron Sutherland got a slight headed touch at the back post but the ball went wide.

At the other end Johnny McCullough’s free kick was easily gathered by Joshua Gracey. Then, in the 25th minute, Portadown fashioned its best attacking move of the match. Joe Williamson picked up Joe McKay’s raking yard ball on the right and centred for the unmarked James McMullen. The Ports centre-forward met the cross full on the head but Gracey moved smartly to his left to make a brilliant save.

Ronan McAlinden (twice) and Daniel Dillon struck accurate shots for the home side but each time Beattie made comfortable saves.

Dylan Alexander, the young Blues’ semi-final goal hero, found space on the left but when he let fly his effort was blocked by a defender.

In the 44th minute Glenavon’s dominance finally got its reward. Alexander latched onto Charlie McShane’s penetrating through pass and coolly lifted the ball over the onrushing Beattie. It was a sublime finish by the Donacloney teenager.

In the second half Glenavon continued to dominate possession and look likely to increase its lead.

McAlinden shot into the side netting from the right side of the penalty area and Morgan’s curling effort was well saved.

Jesse Turner won possession and burst forward before releasing Ronan McAlinden on the right. When the cross flashed across the face of the six-yard area, Turner was there to head narrowly over.

In the 64th minute man-of-the-match Daniel Dillon made the best tackle of the contest when he dispossessed Johnny McCullough inside the penalty area as the Portadown striker prepared to shoot.

Ronan McAlinden, a constant threat in the Glenavon attack, saw a shot blocked for a corner. Then Jesse Turner, another stand-out performer, fired narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty area.

The clinching goal was scored in the 82nd minute. Turner’s lofted cross somehow arrived at the foot of Jaydon Morgan standing just behind the penalty spot. His mishit right foot effort trundled goalward and eluded both an onrushing team-mate and the Portadown goalkeeper before nestling in the corner of the net.

During added time Alexander almost made it 3-0 with a rasping volley from the edge of the 18-yard area which went over the crossbar.

Overall, an excellent performance by Glenavon and deserved victory.

GLENAVON: Joshua Gracey, Daniel Brown, Daniel Dillon, Charlie McShane, Cameron Sutherland, Aaron Mills, Ronan McAlinden, Dillon Alexander, Lewis McMaster, Jadon Morgan, Jesse Turner, SUBS: Ashley Beckett (not used), Matthew Morris for Sutherland (67 mins), Harry Bownes for Turner (86 mins), Christopher Heasley for McAlinden (91 mins) and Llwyd Jones (not used).

Cautions – Matthew Morris 72 mins

PORTADOWN: Darren Beattie, Kyle Harte, Zach Woolsey, Billy Morrison, Scott Somerville, Joe McKay, Jamie Stringer, Johnny McCullough, James McMullen, Lee Marsden, Joe Williamson, SUBS: Zach Richardson (not used), Lewis Burns for McMullen (60 mins), Ethan Sousa for Stringer (half-time), Ben Black for Somerville (half-time) and Goncalo Batista Monteiro (not used).

Cautions – none

Sponsors’ player of the match: Daniel Dillon (Glenavon).

REFEREE: Jack Evans.