Crusaders 2-0 Glenavon

Sports Direct Premiership


Saturday 23rd September 2023

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon lost 2-0 to Crusaders at Seaview on Saturday afternoon in a game which saw midfielder Isaac Baird end up in goals for the Lurgan Blues after Rory Brown was sent off for handling outside the penalty area.

Paul Heatley put Crusaders in front a minute before the half-time break when he lobbed Brown after Malachy Smith’s cross had been nodded on by Adam Lecky.

The hosts doubled their lead on 58 minutes when Philip Lowry bundled the ball home after he’d been picked out by a pass from captain Billy Joe Burns.

Glenavon found themselves down to 10 men in the 81stminute when goalkeeper Brown was shown a straight red card for handling the ball outside the box after a mix-up between him and Danny Wallace. With the permitted five substitutions having already been made, Baird was forced to wear the goalkeeper gloves for the closing minutes of the match.

The home side threatened on eight minutes. Clarke crossed from the right flank to pick Heatley out at the back post. The forward directed his header on target, but Brown was able to palm the ball behind for a corner.

Glenavon came agonisingly close to grabbing the lead two minutes later. Brown launched a goal kick upfield which caught out the Crusaders defence and sent Jackson Nesbitt racing into the penalty area. The striker hit a low left-foot shot across the face of goal which went just inches wide of Jonny Tuffey’s left-hand post.

Brown was called into action once again in the Glenavon goal in the 13th minute. Clarke took an outswinging corner from the right and found Burns at the far side of the box. The Crues captain nodded the ball down to find Robbie Weir, who controlled with his right foot before shooting with his left. Weir’s shot deflected off Wallace on its way through to goal. Brown dived low to his right to push the ball round the post.

Again, it was Clarke who delivered a Crusaders set-piece on 22 minutes. This time it was a dangerous free kick from deep on the left which managed to evade everybody and go behind for a goal kick.

A minute before the half-hour mark, Burns sent a long ball forward which was headed on by

Jarlath O’Rourke into the Glenavon box. Lecky picked the ball up and laid it off for Lowry, who had made a late run into the area. The midfielder struck a first-time shot with his right foot, but Brown was equal to the effort, diving to his left to get both hands to it.

At the other end, Glenavon won a free kick close to the byline in the 40th minute. Jack Malone whipped the ball in low, but Tuffey was able to safely gather.

The deadlock was broken in the penultimate minute of normal time at the end of the first half. Smith took a throw-in on the right to find Lecky, who returned the ball to the fullback. Smith then sent over a cross with his left foot which Lecky helped on with his head. The ball fell to Heatley, who met it on the volley, steering it over Brown and into the net.

After a quiet start to the second half, Crusaders doubled their lead in the 58th minute. Burns picked Lowry out close to the penalty spot with an excellent long ball over the top of the Glenavon defence, which the midfielder brought down on his chest. Lowry’s initial prodded effort came back off Brown, then hit off the shin of Robert Garrett before falling for Lowry again, and this time the midfielder had the simple task of poking over the line from a few yards out.

In an effort to turn the tide of the game, Glenavon made five substitutions as the second half wore on. The Lurgan Blues didn’t carry any real threat to the Crues in the later stages, however, and the home side appeared content to see out a comfortable win.

There was to be one more notable incident, though, when Brown was shown a straight red card for deliberate handball outside the penalty area nine minutes from time. Weir tried to find Clarke with a long ball, but Glenavon substitute Aaron Rogers managed to get his head to it. Rogers tried to direct the ball back to Brown, but he didn’t get enough on his header. With Brown rushing out towards the ball and Wallace running back towards his own goal, there was a mix-up between goalkeeper and captain. Wallace nodded the ball back towards goal, at which point Brown instinctively flicked a hand at it. The goalkeeper had already crossed the 18-yard line when he made contact with the ball, and referee Shane McGonigle produced the red card to send him off.

With Glenavon’s five permitted substitutions having already been made, it fell on young midfielder Baird to don the goalkeeper shirt and gloves for the final 10 minutes or so, but he didn’t have much to do as the game petered out.

Ninth-placed Glenavon welcome Larne to Mourneview Park next Saturday evening (30th September) for a game that will be streamed live on BBC Sport NI. The defending champions currently occupy second place in the league standings. Kick-off will be at 5:30pm.

Crusaders: 33. Jonathan Tuffey (GK), 2. William Joseph Burns (C), 6. Robert Weir, 7. Philip Lowry, 9. Adam Lecky, 15. Jarlath O’Rourke, 20. Daniel Larmour, 21. Malachy Smith, 22. Paul Heatley, 25. Ross Clarke, 42. Lloyd Anderson

Subs: 18. Jordan Owens (for 9. Adam Lecky, 76’), 8. Ben Kennedy (for 42. Lloyd Anderson, 76’), 11. James Teelan (for 25. Ross Clarke, 90+1’), 17. Mikhail Kennedy (for 22. Paul Heatley, 90+1’); not used: 41. Ryan Kerr (GK), 23. Rory Paul McKeown, 62. Jonathan James

Goals: 22. Paul Heatley (44’), 7. Philip Lowry (58’)

Yellow cards: 25. Ross Clarke (79’)

Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 4. Calum Birney, 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

Subs: 21. Aaron Prendergast (for 8. Jack Malone, 59’), 20. Stephen Teggart (for 7. Matthew Snoddy, 59’), 22. Tiarnan Mulvenna (for 28. Robert Garrett, 72’), 3. Aaron Rogers (for 11. Niall Quinn, 72’), 19. Andrew Mooney (for 29. Jackson Nesbitt, 76’); not used: 31. Ben Purvis (GK), 34. Cohen Henderson

Goals: None

Yellow cards: 11. Niall Quinn (45’)

Red cards: 1. Rory Brown (81’)

Referee: Shane McGonigle