Glenavon Under-18s 0 Larne Under-18s 1

Lurgan Junior High School 3G

Wednesday 4th October 2023

Despite playing with ten men for almost 40 minutes, Glenavon Under-18s pushed Larne Under-18s all the way and were unfortunate to lose 1-0 to a late Ethan Douglas-Grierson goal.

The young Blues, without Josh Gracey, Troy Savage, Chris Atherton, Shane Kernan and Aaron Mills, were forced to defend for much of the first half. After Kian Mulholland was sent-off in the 43rd minute for speaking to the referee out of turn, it became a back to the wall operation. Nevertheless, Jack Ross’s team remained well organised and resolute at the back and even threatened in occasional break aways.

Larne, which has a full time Academy in which players train and study every day, dominated possession. In the opening minutes Callum Cowan and Ross Ferguson both saw shots blocked.

In the 14th minute Glenavon’s Callum Snodgrass shot from 10 yards but the ball hit a defender. When it broke loose Llwyd Jones fired over the crossbar.

Larne’s Ronan O’Hara and Joel Given both shot wide. Harrison Knight headed wide and then saw two efforts on-target brilliantly saved by home goalkeeper Lucas Fry.

Glenavon lost Cian Mulholland early in the second half. Despite that its defence remained strong and, in fact, restricted Larne to shots on goal from outside the penalty-area.

Indeed, there were occasions when the home side threatened. Calum Hamilton forced Larne goalkeeper Patrick Solis Grogan to make a save and substitute Dylan Alexander shot just wide from 6 yards.

Lucas Fry saved well from Jude Simms’ piledriver. Callum Cowan and Ross Ferguson both shot wide.

Larne scored its 75th minute winner from a free kick. Cowan crossed to the back post, Logan Graham played the ball across the face of goal and substitute Douglas-Grierson administered the coup de gras from close-range.

Glenavon coach Jack Ross, though disappointed with the result, was delighted with his players’ performance. “We defended extremely well. Christopher Heasley, Tomas Murphy and Charlie McShane were all outstanding,” he said. “Larne are a strong side. They have benefited from massive investment. But our lads were very good. We kept our shape, stuck to the gameplan and created some scoring chances. If we continue to perform like this, we will have a good season.”

GLENAVON: Fry, Murphy, Heaney, Booth, O’Neill, Snodgrass, Heasley, Hamilton, Jones, McShane, Mulholland, SUBS: Alexander for Heasley (48 mins), Robinson for O’Neill (48 mins), Hawthorne for Hamilton (62 mins), Glass for Booth (76 mins), Carson for Snodgrass (76 mins), O’Neill for Jones (79 mins).