Linfield 4 Glenavon 2

Sports Direct Premiership

The National Stadium, Windsor Park

Tuesday 15th August 2023

Despite an improved performance, Glenavon lost 4-2 against Linfield. Former Mourneview Park favourite Joel Cooper grabbed the headlines with a brilliant goal early in the second half to put the home side 2-1 in front.

Stephen Teggart (17 mins) and Calum Birney (74 mins) were the men on target for Glenavon. Chris McKee (16 mins), Cooper (52 mins) and Chris Shields (61, pen. 65 mins) scored for Linfield.

Lurgan Blues’ boss Gary Hamilton radically changed his eleven. Sean Ward, Aaron Rogers, Jack Malone, Jamie Doran and Andy Mooney were left out. Calum Birney, Robbie Garrett, Stephen Teggart, Aaron Prendergast and Conor McCloskey started.

The match began in lively fashion with Jack Scott’s cross from the right striking the top of the crossbar. When Matthew Clarke pounced on the loose ball, Rory Brown saved well.

Glenavon quickly began to impose itself on the home side. In the third minute Peter Campbell intercepted a pass from Chris Shields and powered into the penalty area. However, a combination of hesitancy on the part of the winger and a good recovery by Shields meant that nothing came of the opportunity.

Five minutes later Isaac Baird found Campbell who picked out Stephen Teggart inside the 18-yard box. The former Portadown man looked poised to give Glenavon the lead, but he shot straight at Chris Johns.

Linfield went close after 11 minutes when Kirk Milar’s cross found Jack Scott at the back post. Fortunately for Glenavon, Calum Birney was on hand to kick Scott’s header off the goal-line.

In the 16th minute the home side went in front somewhat against the run of play. Matthew Clarke crossed from the left, Scott pulled the ball back from the by-line and Chris McKee shot high into net from close range.

Immediately, Glenavon equalised. Jack Scott made a poor headed clearance from Matthew Snoddy’s sweeping cross and Peter Campbell blasted against a defender’s body. When the ball broke loose just outside the penalty area, Stephen Teggart beat Johns with a brilliant, curling right foot shot.

Three minutes later Linfield almost re-took the lead but Kirk Millar’s well struck effort cannoned back off the inside of a post.

Robbie Garrett, a steadying influence for Glenavon in midfield, released Peter Campbell on the left. When the winger crossed to the near post, Michael Newberry got to the ball just ahead of Aaron Prendergast and made a goal-saving clearance.

At the other end Joel Cooper threatened the Glenavon defence with a mazy run but was stopped by Peter Campbell. Kyle McClean blasted the resultant free kick over the crossbar.

The second half started in dramatic fashion when Glenavon was awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Peter Campbell hit a sweet low drive with his left foot but turned away in disappointment as Johns saved superbly at the base of a post.

Two minutes later Linfield went 2-1 in front. Kirk Millar found Cooper on the right touchline. The winger turned sharply and dribbled the ball past Tiarnan Mulvenna, Danny Wallace and Peter Campbell before curling a deft left foot shot into the net. An early contender for the Irish Premiership’s “Goal of the Season” award.

Sixty seconds later Rory Brown had to move sharply to save Chris Shields’ well struck shot.

In the 55th minute Stephen Teggart released Aaron Prendergast with a quick throw-in. The 19-year-old ran to the edge of the penalty area before skilfully lifting the ball over Johns’ head only for the face of the crossbar to deny him a deserved goal.

Ben Hall almost increased Linfield’s advantage when he stormed forward and exchanged passes with Matthew Fitzpatrick before shooting just wide of an upright.

The home side was handed a gilt-edged chance to go further ahead when Mulvenna fouled Kyle McClean inside the 18-yard box. Although Rory Brown made a fine save from Chris Shields’ spot-kick, the Linfield midfielder scored from the rebound.

Linfield found the net for a fourth time when Rory Brown fouled Chris McKee inside the penalty area. This time Shields made no mistake from 12 yards.

Glenavon, despite the 4-1 scoreline, continued to battle bravely. Peter Campbell should have done better when Jack Malone, a half-time substitute for Conor McCloskey, released him on the left. For a moment the visitors had two attackers against one defender. However, Campbell delayed his shot or pass and allowed Ben Hall to retrieve possession.

With sixteen minutes remaining, Glenavon reduced the deficit when Calum Birney headed Campbell’s corner kick past Chris Johns.

Kyle McClean found John Robertson on the right and his shot was well saved by Brown. Four minutes later McClean himself tested the visitors’ goalkeeper but again he made a vital block.

In the closing seconds substitute Cohen Henderson threatened the Linfield defence with a mazy run. When he passed the ball to Prendergast, the teenager shot over the crossbar.

Overall, a disappointing result for Glenavon. However, Gary Hamilton will be encouraged by some pleasing individual displays and, of course, the two goals.

LINFIELD: Johns, Newberry, Shields, Scott, Millar, McClean, Cooper, Hall, Clarke, McKee, Fitzpatrick, SUBS: Walsh (not used), McBrien for Fitzpatrick (75 mins), Mulgrew for Cooper (89 mins), Robertson for McKee (68 mins), McKay for Millar (75 mins), Archer (not used), McStravick (not used).

Yellow Cards: Clarke (21’), Newberry (37’)

GLENAVON: Brown, Snoddy, Wallace, Birney, Baird, Teggart, Mulvenna, Garrett, Prendergast, Campbell, McCloskey, SUBS: Kerr for Snoddy (75 mins), Rogers for Mulvenna (75 mins), Malone for McCloskey (half-time), Mooney (not used), Doran for Teggart (75 mins), Nesbitt (not used), Henderson for Garrett (75 mins).

Yellow Cards: Campbell (38’), Snoddy (45+2’), Rogers (90+2’)

REFEREE: Tony Clarke.