Annagh United 1 Glenavon 4

Saturday 8th July 2023

Four goals in the last 20 minutes allowed Glenavon to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 victory against Annagh United 4-1 at the BMC Arena, Portadown.

Goals from Jack Malone (70 mins), Niall Quinn (74 mins) and Aaron Prendergast (82, 88 mins) rendered Craig Taylor’s 27th minute strike redundant.

However, it was a Jekyll and Hyde performance by the Lurgan Blues. Annagh looked the stronger, hungrier team during the opening 45 minutes and deserved its interval advantage. But, after the break, Glenavon metamorphosed into a side full of energy, sharpness and creativity. In fact, such was their dominance that the visitors could easily have scored more than four times.

Gary Hamilton could not have been happy with what he saw in the first half. Yet, despite having seven potential replacements on the bench, he gave his starting eleven an opportunity to redeem itself and, in large part, it did.

Robbie Garrett, who missed the game at Crumlin, but played for 45 minutes against Rosario, was absent today with an Achilles injury.

Lee Upton, back at the BMG Arena after a season with Portadown, almost gave the home side an early lead with a pinpoint header but Rory Brown saved well.

Then, Scott McCullough, son of former Blues’ favourite Dean McCullough, won a midfield tussle with Jack Malone and released Craig Taylor on the left. The tall striker, standing unmarked in the penalty area, easily beat Brown with a low left foot shot.

Upton went close again during the closing minutes of the half but dragged his effort wide. Glenavon struggled to the extent that it only produced one noteworthy goal attempt during the opening 45 minutes – a shot from Andy Mooney which went just past an upright.

The second half proved to be completely different. Gary Hamilton’s team created a succession of chances but had to wait until the 70th minute to equalise.

Stephen Teggart almost scored in the 48th minute. His angled shot was well saved and the Annagh goalkeeper recovered quickly to block a follow-up header by Mooney. A third attempt somehow failed to find the net.

That short sequence of frenzied goalmouth action set the tone for the rest of the game.

Peter Campbell shot wide when well placed. Then the Glenavon number ten’s goalbound effort was blocked. Trialist B’s piledriver was saved and Tiernan Mulvenna drilled the ball past a post. Jack Malone tested the Annagh goalkeeper twice from 20 yards.

Glenavon finally broke through when Peter Campbell’s shot from the left side of the penalty area was handled by Annagh defender, Conal Young. Jack Malone took the spot-kick and found the net with a low drive which the goalkeeper touched but could not save.

Four minutes later Niall Quinn put the visitors in front with a potential goal of the season. The former Linfield defender’s left foot drive from 25 yards arrowed into the top corner of the net.

Jamie Doran and Campbell again went close before substitute Aaron Prendergast extended Glenavon’s lead. When the ball ricocheted off an Annagh defender’s back close to the halfway line, A.P. took possession and burst through the middle to score with a composed, accurate right foot shot.

Two minutes from time Prendergast grabbed his second when he collected a brilliant short pass by Campbell and drilled the ball high into the net.

GLENAVON: Brown, Lynch, Kerr, Quinn, Mulvenna, Teggart, Doran, Malone, Mooney, Campbell, Trialist B, SUBS: Prendergast for Mooney (65 mins), Henderson for Mulvenna (65 mins), Trialist C (not used), Trialist D (not used), Trialist E (not used), Purvis (not used) and Fry (not used).