Rathfriland Rangers 0 Glenavon 2

Tuesday 25th July 2023

An improved second half performance allowed Glenavon to defeat Premier Intermediate League new boys Rathriland Rangers 2-0 at Iveagh Park.

Niall Quinn (48 mins) and Jack Malone (57 mins) scored the goals.

Centre-half Calum Birney, sidelined by a groin injury since mid-April 2023, played for 30 minutes with no obvious ill-effects.

A teenage trialist from the Lurgan area, also introduced after half-time, showed some neat touches in an attacking midfield role.

Best for Glenavon were midfielders Jack Malone and Isaac Baird. Malone, who looks extremely fit, was dangerous every time he received the ball. Baird, tall and lean, was strong in the tackle and composed in possession. Malone, as already noted, scored the second goal whilst Baird hit the crossbar with a fine left foot shot in the closing minutes.

Cohen Henderson, who has been impressive in pre-season, seemed to adopt a free role behind twin attackers Andy Mooney and Jackson Nesbitt. Although not at his best, he went close on several occasions.

Glenavon started brightly. In the 12th minute Andy Mooney’s glancing header from Stephen Teggart’s venomous cross cannoned off the inside of a post. Jack Malone pounced on the loose ball and drilled a low shot goalward. However, remarkably, the former Derry City man’s effort struck Mooney’s heel and was cleared off the goal-line.

Henderson also went close when he controlled Bobby Deane’s cross with a deft touch but shot narrowly wide.

In the 34th minute Jack Malone hit a rasping shot from 15 yards which Jackson Nesbitt flicked with his head forcing the Rathriland goalkeeper, a trialist, to make a reaction save.

Isaac Baird exchanged passes with Teggart on the right but shot wide when he perhaps should have hit the target.

Rathriland had its moments during the first half. Jack Chambers tested Brown with two efforts from distanceand then sent a third shot crashing against the underside of the crossbar. Ruari Fitzpatrick also blasted high and wide when well placed.

Glenavon dominated the second half. Niall Quinn opened the scoring when he beat the goalkeeper with a fine shot after the ball had been switched from right to left by Teggart and Malone.

Henderson went close with a right foot shot from distance.

Mooney, industrious throughout, pulled the ball back from the by-line but Quinn’s goalbound shot was blocked by a defender.

Then the visitors doubled their lead. Andy Mooney picked up a penetrating through pass and rounded the goalkeeper, but with several defenders threatening to block his way to goal, had the presence of mind to pull the ball back for the onrushing Malone to crash it high into the net.

Mooney headed just over and Malone turned sharply before sending an ambitious chip inches past the far post.

Jack Malone picked out Deane with a neat pass but the defender fired wide with an angled drive.

Mooney almost got a touch to Harry Norton’s low centre. Then Baird grimaced in disappointment as his shot struck the crossbar.

Rathriland, outplayed for long periods, was denied twice by Brown early in the second period. Fitzpatrick’s effortwas palmed away by the former Glentoran goalkeeper. Then, minutes later, Matthew Holloway took possession on the edge of the six-yard box but was unable to beat the Glenavon custodian.

In the closing seconds Nigel Prentice raced from the halfway line with the ball at his feet but delayed his shot and Brown made a comfortable clearance.

GLENAVON: Brown, Kerr, Rogers, Deane, Teggart, Baird, Malone, Quinn, Mooney, Henderson, Nesbitt, SUBS: Birney for Rogers (61 mins), Trialist A for Henderson (61 mins), Norton for Teggart (76 mins) and Purvis for Purvis for Brown (76 mins).