Glenavon 2-1 Carrick Rangers

Sports Direct Premiership

Mourneview Park

Saturday 16th September 2023

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon began life without Gary Hamilton with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over ten-man Carrick Rangers at Mourneview Park on Saturday afternoon.

Kyle Cherry was shown a straight red card for a lunge on Jack Malone just 16 minutes into the match, but the stubborn visitors held firm until shortly after the hour mark, when Aaron Prendgerast converted fellow substitute Stephen Teggart’s cross to break the deadlock.

Former Glenavon striker Danny Purkis scored a goal of the season contender on 75 minutes to equalise for Rangers when he lobbed Rory Brown from close to the halfway line.

Glenavon’s winner came courtesy of a penalty kick, with Malone converting from the spot nine minutes from time after Peter Campbell had been shoved to the ground by Joe Crowe.

Seeing a Glenavon team take to the field without Gary Hamilton being in charge was a strange feeling for supporters inside Mourneview Park considering the former Northern Ireland international had been boss of the Lurgan Blues for the best part of 12 years.

Credit must go to interim manager Gary McAlister and his coaching team, however, as they ensured the Glenavon players showed no signs of a post-Hamilton hangover in their performance, enjoying good spells of possession in which they passed the ball around assuredly, as well as strength of character to first break down a resilient Carrick side, then stave off the threat of a fightback before grabbing a winner to secure a vital victory.

The closest either side came to finding a goal in the opening minutes of the game was when Carrick forward Nedas Maciulaitis fired a shot over the bar in the 10th minute after he’d been found by a cross from the right by Purkis.

Stuart King’s side found themselves down to 10 men six minutes later when Cherry was given his marching orders for a reckless tackle on Malone. The passage of play began with a Carrick corner on the left which Cherry himself took. He played the ball short to Ben Tilney, who drilled in a cross which could have caused real problems for Glenavon had Robert Garrett not been on hand to head away from the near-post area. Malone was first to the loose ball, and just after he got his boot to it, Cherry dived in rashly to upend the Glenavon midfielder. Referee Christopher Morrison didn’t hesitate to produce the red card for what was a needless, and frankly silly, tackle deep in the Glenavon half.

Garrett had a pop at goal for the home side with a shot from outside the box in the 19th minute, but the midfielder’s effort was deflected behind for a corner.

At the other end four minutes later, Carrick captain David Cushley whipped the ball in at pace from a free kick close to the right corner flag, forcing Glenavon goalkeeper Brown into a save.

Malone came within inches of scoring an opener for the hosts a minute before the half-hour mark. He curled a first-time right-foot shot inches wide of Ross Glendinning’s left-hand post from 20 yards out after he had been teed up by the impressive Matthew Snoddy following a neat passage of play involving Snoddy and Isaac Baird.

Glenavon had their goalkeeper to thank for keeping the game scoreless in the 39th minute when Brown made an impressive save to deny Carrick’s Emmett McGuckin. The big striker outmuscled Glenavon captain Danny Wallace to break into the penalty area and get a shot away. Brown dived down to his left and got a strong hand to the ball to make the save.

Most of those in attendance thought the Lurgan Blues had gone in front a minute later when the ball ended up in the net after Malone had delivered a free kick from wide on the left, but the linesman raised his flag to rule it out for offside.

Campbell found Jackson Nesbitt with a cross from the left in the penultimate minute of the opening half. The ball arrived at an awkward height for the striker, though, and in the end, he could only glance a header wide of the far post, and so it remained scoreless at the break.

Brown was called into action once more in the Glenavon goal 12 minutes after the restart. McGuckin flicked an Albert Watson cross from the left on with his head towards the back post, where the ball fell invitingly to Cushley. Hearts were in mouths among Glenavon supporters as Cushley wound up to shoot with his lethal left foot. Sure enough, the Carrick captain struck his volley with venom. Brown was equal to the effort, however, springing to his left to make a one-handed save. The Glenavon keeper couldn’t prevent the ball from popping up into the air, and McGuckin managed to direct a follow-up header on target, but Brown was alert enough to gather the ball and the danger was averted.

Tilney defended well for the visitors in the 63rd minute when he cut out a cross which Campbell had delivered from the left when Malone was poised for a tap-in.

As it turned out, Glenavon were to grab the lead just moments after Tilney’s vital intervention. It took a goal of real quality to finally break the deadlock for the Lurgan Blues. Conor Kerr, who received the sponsor’s man of the match award, popped a pass into Snoddy just inside the Carrick penalty area. The midfielder brought the ball under control before laying it out to the advancing Teggart, who curled over a low first-time cross to pick out Prendergast. The young striker met the ball on the six-yard line at the near post and expertly steered a left-foot volley beyond the helpless Ross Glendinning and inside the far post. With Prendergast and Teggart both having been introduced from the bench just a minute or so before the goal, it’s fair to say they were a couple of inspired substitutions on interim boss McAlister’s part.

Rangers might have hit back just a minute after Glenavon’s opener when McGuckin again found himself in on goal. On this occasion the Carrick number nine attempted to lob Brown, but he didn’t get the required elevation on the ball, and it turned out to be a simple save for the goalkeeper.

Niall Quinn nearly sealed the win for the Lurgan Blues on 66 minutes when he crashed a shot off the crossbar. Quinn cut out an attempted clearance from Crowe before carrying the ball to the edge of the box, where he unleashed a wicked shot with his left foot. Ross Glendinning was beaten all ends up in the Carrick goal, but unfortunately for Glenavon the ball cannoned back off the bar.

Carrick manager King made a triple substitution in the 68th minute, introducing Joshua Andrews, Curtis Allen and Reece Glendinning in place of Maciulaitis, McGuckin and Cushley, and these changes seemed to help swing the momentum of the game in Carrick’s favour.

The away side equalised on 75 minutes through a strike that was nothing short of a wonder goal. Tilney launched a high ball upfield from near the 18-yard line to find Purkis. The on-loan Glentoran striker was just inside the Glenavon half and facing towards his own goal when he killed the ball with his first touch. Purkis may have ridden his luck a little initially to evade Garrett’s attempted challenge, but from then on it was sublime from the ex-Glenavon forward. He spun away from Sean Ward and carried the ball a few yards before looking up to spy that Brown was off his line. Purkis was still within the centre circle when he struck a shot with his right foot. Brown back-pedalled and very nearly managed to get a glove to the ball, but such was the accuracy of Purkis’ shot that it beat the dive of the goalkeeper and dropped beneath the crossbar and into the net. Come the end of the campaign, when talk turns towards the goal of the season, there is no doubt that this strike will be part of that discussion.

Carrick really had the wind in their sails after the Purkis goal, and the visitors might have found a second on a couple of occasions in quick succession soon after. First, in the 78th minute, there was a nervy moment when Ward appeared to attempt to chest the ball back to his goalkeeper, only for the defender to send the ball beyond Brown and towards his own net. Thankfully Ward was able to recover to gather the ball and avoid a potential calamity.

Just a minute after that incident, Carrick sub Andrews saw his shot from all of 25 yards glance the top of the crossbar, and at this point it was the away team who looked the more likely to find a winner.

The tide of the game turned back in Glenavon’s favour moments later, however, when the Lurgan Blues were awarded a penalty. Substitute Aaron Rogers crossed from deep on the left. Mark Surgenor managed to get his head to the ball, but he could only clear as far as Campbell. The Glenavon winger was heading towards the byline when he got a shove in the back from Crowe, and referee Morrison blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. The initial reaction of some in the stands was that it was a bit of a soft decision, but it was a clumsy tackle from Crowe. Responsibility for the taking of the spot kick fell to Malone. The midfielder sent Ross Glendinning the wrong way and stroked a low shot into the net to restore Glenavon’s lead with nine minutes of normal time left to play.

Carrick weren’t done yet, and substitute Allen got in on the left side of the penalty area after a ball had been played over the top of the Glenavon defence in the 84th minute. The veteran striker didn’t connect properly with his shot, though, slicing harmlessly wide of the near post.

Prendergast might have grabbed his second to put the result beyond doubt in the fifth minute of stoppage time, but he shot high and wide with his left foot after he’d been found by a pass from Campbell.

There was to be one last chance for a Carrick equaliser in the dying seconds when Reece Glendinning took a corner from the left to find Purkis. The striker could only glance his header wide of the far post when he will feel that he should have at least tested Brown in the Glenavon goal.

The Lurgan Blues’ second win of the season sees them leapfrog Rangers into eighth place in the Sports Direct Premiership standings. Both sides are on seven points, but Glenavon sit above Carrick by virtue of a superior goal difference.

Next weekend sees the beginning of a tough run of fixtures for the Mourneview men, as they travel to Seaview on Saturday (23rd September) to take on a fourth-placed Crusaders side that is currently unbeaten after their opening six league matches. Kick-off on the Shore Road will be at 3pm.

MATCH SPONSOR – Allen Gamble Windows & Spirit of 2014 Glenavon Supporters Club

BALL SPONSOR – Carla Lockhart


MASCOT – Cameron Fitzsimons

Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 8. Jack Malone,10. Peter Campbell, 11. Niall Quinn, 16. Isaac Baird, 23. Daniel Wallace (C), 28. Robert Garrett, 29. Jackson Nesbitt, 30. Sean Ward

Subs: 20. Stephen Teggart (for 16. Isaac Baird, 62’), 21. Aaron Prendergast (for 29. Jackson Nesbitt, 62’), 3. Aaron Rogers (for 11. Niall Quinn, 76’), 22. Tiarnan Mulvenna (for 28. Robert Garrett, 85’); not used: 31. Ben Purvis (GK), 19. Andrew Mooney, 34. Cohen Henderson

Goals: 21. Aaron Prendergast (63’), 8. Jack Malone (penalty, 81’)

Yellow cards: 23. Daniel Wallace (45’), 7. Matthew Snoddy (82’), 28. Robert Garrett (83’), 21. Aaron Prendergast (90+1’)

Carrick Rangers: 1. Ross Glendinning (GK), 2. Kurtis Forsythe, 4. Mark Surgenor, 5. Albert Watson, 7. David Cushley (C), 9. Emmett McGuckin, 11. Nedas Maciulaitis, 19. Joe Crowe, 20. Kyle Cherry, 24. Daniel Purkis, 39. Ben Tilney

Subs: 17. Joshua Andrews (for 11. Nedas Maciulaitis, 68’), 10. Curtis Allen (for 9. Emmett McGuckin, 68’), 23. Reece Glendinning (for 7. David Cushley, 7’); not used: 25. Ben McCauley (GK), 14. Callum Mills, 15. Benjamin Buchanan-Rolleston, 22. Jaydyn Withers

Goals: 24. Daniel Purkis (75’)

Yellow cards: 19. Joe Crowe (12’), 5. Albert Watson (24’), 4. Mark Surgenor (80’), 23. Reece Glendinning (82’)

Red cards: 20. Kyle Cherry (16’)

Referee: Christopher Morrison