Glenavon 0-4 Larne
Sports Direct Premiership
Saturday 30th September 2023
Match report by Calum Jones
Stephen McDonnell’s first game in charge of Glenavon ended in a 4-0 defeat at the hands of reigning Premiership champions Larne at Mourneview Park on Saturday evening.
The Lurgan Blues, who gave a good account of themselves in the opening third of the game, saw Robert Garrett shown a straight red card on 37 minutes for a tackle on Dylan Sloan, but the scoreline remained goalless at the break.
Larne burst into life after the interval, however, and substitute Lee Bonis scored a hat-trick in a 10-minute spell early in the second half to take the game away from Glenavon.
The impressive Sloan wrapped up the scoring for the Inver men when he slotted in a fourth goal in the 65th minute, as Tiernan Lynch’s side bounced back from the disappointment of their midweek defeat to Loughgall in style.
Glenavon’s Jack Malone was presented with the game’s first shooting opportunity on four minutes, but the midfielder’s effort from outside the box went well over the bar.
Three minutes later at the other end, Scott Allan sent in a free kick from the right and picked out Cian Bolger. The Larne captain found the target with a powerful header, but Glenavon goalkeeper Rory Brown was equal to the effort, diving to his left to palm the ball away.
Malone had another effort on goal for the hosts in the 17th minute, and this time he went close, his low right-foot shot from 25 yards forcing Larne keeper Aidan Dowling into a fingertip save.
Malone’s effort sparked a short spell of Glenavon pressure, and from a second corner kick, taken by Peter Campbell on the right on 18 minutes, Andy Mooney was picked out. The forward sent his header wide when he really should have been at least working the goalkeeper.
Mooney had an even better chance to score with his head a minute later. This time it was a superb Stephen Teggart cross from the right flank that picked out the striker on the six-yard line. Mooney looked certain to score, but he could only direct his header wide of the far post, and a gilt-edged chance went begging.
Bonis was brought on inside the opening quarter of an hour to replace the injured Andy Ryan for the visitors. The former Portadown striker threatened in the 27th minute when he attempted a backheel after Brown had fumbled a cross, but thankfully for the Glenavon goalkeeper Bonis could only find the side-netting.
Levi Ives bundled his way past a couple of Glenavon challenges and into the penalty area on the left side six minutes later. Ives struck a shot with his right foot which Brown had to tip over the bar.
A pivotal moment arrived with 37 minutes on the clock. Garrett lunged in on Sloan deep in the Larne half, and referee Keith Kennedy showed little hesitation in producing a red card to dismiss the experienced Glenavon midfielder.
The Lurgan Blues managed to make it to the half-time whistle with the game still scoreless, but there was an air of inevitability that the Larne goals would arrive in the second period, and sure enough the away side broke the deadlock just two minutes after the restart. Sloan floated an excellent long pass over the head of Calum Birney to pick out Bonis on the edge of the ‘D’. The quality of Bonis’ first touch matched that of Sloan’s pass, and the striker steadied himself before side-footing past Brown to open the scoring.
Bonis grabbed his and Larne’s second goal just a minute later. Kieran Lloyd curled in a cross from the right to pick out Bonis close to the six-yard line. The forward connected with a first-time volley which went in off the underside of the crossbar.
Bonis might have completed his hat-trick on 52 minutes when he was found by Lloyd again, but this time he shot straight at Brown.
As it turned out, Bonis wouldn’t have long to wait for his third goal, anyway. Allan whipped over a corner from the left in the 56th minute to the back post area and Bonis looped a header over Brown to find the net. There may have been a slight deflection off the head of Glenavon fullback Conor Kerr to help the ball on its way, but that won’t have bothered the Larne hitman.
Larne’s fourth arrived on 65 minutes, Sloan capping off his brilliant performance with a deserved goal. The midfielder carried the ball past Glenavon captain Danny Wallace and away from Malone as he headed towards the penalty area. Sloan then slipped a pass into the box to find O’Neill, who did really well to dummy and cut back inside Wallace before laying the ball back to Sloan. The 19-year-old steered a first-time shot inside the far post with the inside of his right boot.
At this point, it looked like Larne were really threatening to run riot, but mercifully for Glenavon, the goals did stop flowing.
Bonis might have got his fourth of the night in the 79th minute when he hit a low shot on target from just inside the penalty area, but Brown was able to keep it out. It’s fair to say Larne took their foot off the gas as the game entered the closing minutes, and so it finished 4-0.
There were some encouraging signs for Glenavon in the opening half an hour of their first outing under McDonnell, with the home side enjoying some decent spells of possession as they did try to take the game to the champions, but Garrett’s red card was always going to turn the tide of the match against a team of Larne’s quality.
The Lurgan Blues will now look to bounce back on Tuesday night (3rd October) when they host Championship side Dergview in a first-round tie in the Bet McClean League Cup. Kick-off at Mourneview Park will be at 7:45pm.
After that, attention turns back to the Premiership on Saturday (7th October), with Glenavon making the trip to Coleraine to take on the seventh-placed Bannsiders. Oran Kearney’s team are currently three places and seven points ahead of the Lurgan Blues in the standings.
MATCH SPONSOR – Moira Equestrian Centre in Memory of Paddy Allen
BALL SPONSOR – Paul Mitchell
MAN OF THE MATCH SPONSOR – Jonathan Burns
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Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 4. Calum Birney, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 8. Jack Malone,10. Peter Campbell, 19. Andrew Mooney, 20. Stephen Teggart, 23. Daniel Wallace (C), 28. Robert Garrett, 30. Sean Ward
Subs: 3. Aaron Rogers (for 4. Calum Birney, 56’), 16. Isaac Baird (for 7. Matthew Snoddy, 56’), 17. Conor McCloskey (for 19. Andrew Mooney, 56’), 22. Tiarnan Mulvenna (for 20. Stephen Teggart, 80’), 21. Aaron Prendergast (for 10. Peter Campbell, 86’); not used: 31. Ben Purvis (GK), 29. Jackson Nesbitt
Yellow cards: N/A
Red cards: 28. Robert Garrett (37’)
Larne: 28. Aidan Dowling (GK), 4. Aaron Donnelly, 5. Craig Farquhar, 9. Paul O’Neill, 11. Scott Allan, 14. Levi Ives, 15. Kieran Lloyd, 18. Cian Bolger (C), 23. Tomas Cosgrove, 25. Dylan Sloan, 29. Andrew Ryan
Subs: 10. Lee Bonis (for 29. Andrew Ryan, 13’), 8. Mark Randall (for 11. Scott Allan, 68’), 19. Paul Ilijah Paul Gindiri (for 9. Paul O’Neill, 68’), 6. Joseph Thomson (for 14. Levi Ives, 77’), 22. Micheal Glynn (for 25. Dylan Sloan, 77’); not used: 31. Rian Brown (GK), 2. Shaun Want
Goals: 10. Lee Bonis (47’, 48’, 56’), 25. Dylan Sloan (65’)
Yellow cards: N/A
Referee: Keith Kennedy