Coleraine 4-1 Glenavon

Sports Direct Premiership

Coleraine Showgrounds

Saturday 7th October 2023

Match report by Calum Jones

Despite a fast start and a positive first-half performance away to Coleraine on Saturday, Glenavon were eventually beaten 4-1 by the Bannsiders.

Jack Malone opened the scoring for the Lurgan Blues in the sixth minute when he scored a superb free kick from all of 25 yards.

Malone might have had a first-half hat-trick, but he couldn’t find the target on two occasions when well placed, and Glenavon paid the price for this failure to add to their lead when Josh Carson equalised with a free kick of his own right on the stroke of half-time.

It was a different game in the second 45 minutes, with the home side clearly in the ascendency, and they grabbed an inevitable lead through an excellent Conor McKendry goal on 73 minutes.

Matthew Shevlin added a third for the Bannsiders in the 88th minute, while Man of the Match McKendry struck his second and Coleraine’s fourth four minutes into injury time to round off the scoring.

Glenavon made a dream start to the game when Malone gave them the lead with just five minutes on the clock. The visitors won a free kick 25 yards out when Peter Campbell was brought down. Malone stepped up and curled a brilliant shot over the wall and inside Gareth Deane’s right-hand post with his right foot.

In a first half that was open and saw plenty of attacking intent from both teams, Glenavon had a real let-off six minutes after Malone’s goal when Shevlin got in behind their defence. The Premiership’s top scorer from last season blazed his shot over the bar when many in the ground were expecting to see the net bulge.

Shevlin might have had another chance on 15 minutes when a cross was sent over from the right flank to try and pick him out, but Sean Ward made a vital intercepting header to deny the striker an opportunity.

Two minutes later at the other end, Stephen Teggart crossed from the right and Matthew Snoddy got his head to the ball. The midfielder’s flicked effort looped over the crossbar, however.

Campbell picked out Aaron Prendergast with a cross from the left in the 20th minute. The young striker hit the target, but his header was straight at Deane.

Former Glenavon player Jack O’Mahony got on the end of a McKendry cross to force Rory Brown into a save a couple of minutes later. Brown dived to his left and palmed the ball away.

The Glenavon goalkeeper had to make an even better save on 26 minutes. McKendry, as is his wont, cut in from the right and fired a low shot in with his left foot towards the near post. Brown dived down low to his left to make the stop.

Glenavon had a glorious chance to double their lead a minute after that Brown save. Campbell sent over a cross from the left to pick out Malone in the penalty area. The midfielder met the ball on the volley, but he could only steer his first-time effort wide of the far post when he really should have at least tested Deane in the Coleraine goal.

Malone was presented with an even better opportunity to score in the 42nd minute. Teggart played a low ball across the box from the right which found its way to Malone at the back post. On this occasion the midfielder sent a side-foot effort over the bar. He really should have scored.

The Lurgan Blues were punished for their profligacy just two minutes later. After Coleraine won a free kick in the ‘D’, Carson displayed great skill to clear the wall and dip the ball under the bar to find the net with his left foot. Brown had no chance in the Glenavon goal to prevent the equaliser, and so the teams went in level at the break.

The contrast in Glenavon’s second-half performance compared to their first was stark. The visitors simply failed to get going in the second period.

Five minutes after the restart, there was an ominous warning of what was to come when McKendry let fly with a shot from outside the box after a good run. The shot was central, but Brown still did well to tip the ball over the bar.

There were half-hearted appeals from Glenavon supporters when Deane caught the ball right on his goal line after Teggart had crossed from the right in the 53rd minute, but there was no indication from the match officials that there was any question of the ball having crossed the line.

Glenavon were very lucky to remain on level terms on the hour mark. O’Mahony looked certain to score when he pounced on a rebound after Brown had made a save, but Ward produced a brilliant last-gasp block on the line to keep the ball out of the net.

The Coleraine pressure was really beginning to tell as the game reached the midway point of the second half, and Shevlin came close to giving the hosts the lead in the 69th minute when he rattled a shot off the crossbar from outside the box.

The Bannsiders went even closer to scoring a minute after that. This time it was Lee Lynch who struck a shot from distance. Brown did well to get fingertips to the ball and tip it onto the bar. The ball then bounced down towards the goal line and Coleraine were convinced they had scored, but referee Raymond Crangle and his assistant decided that it hadn’t crossed the line. McKendry went into the book for his protests to the linesman in the aftermath.

It was to be the scoresheet that McKendry’s name was added to in the 72nd minute when he gave the Bannsiders the lead their second-half dominance deserved. The winger advanced with the ball from the right, ghosting past Malone to create a shooting opportunity for himself. He was still more than 20 yards from goal when he struck his shot, but the ball flew into the far top corner, well beyond the dive of Brown.

Glenavon substitute Cohen Henderson came within inches of equalising for the Lurgan Blues on 79 minutes. The young forward showed good pace to get to the ball ahead of Coleraine captain Lyndon Kane before rounding goalkeeper Deane out on the left. Henderson rolled a low shot towards goal from a narrow angle, and the ball went just the wrong side of the near post and into the side-netting.

The travelling supporters were hopeful that Malone could repeat his earlier heroics when a free kick was awarded in a threatening position in the 86th minute. On this occasion, unfortunately Malone’s shot flew wide of the far post.

The Bannsiders doubled their advantage through Shevlin on 87 minutes. Carson beat Isaac Baird to a loose ball in the centre circle and sent it up into the air and towards the Glenavon box. Shevlin showed good strength to hold off Danny Wallace before spinning the Glenavon captain and unleashing a low shot with his right foot. The powerful effort flew into the bottom corner, with Brown unable even to attempt to make a save.

McKendry capped off his virtuoso performance when he grabbed his second goal of the game in the fourth minute of injury time. Substitute Aaron Jarvis spread a pass out to the right to find McKendry. The winger bamboozled Niall Quinn as he dribbled into the box before pinging a low left-foot shot past Brown and into the net to make it 4-1.

The final score was perhaps a bit harsh on Glenavon given their first-half showing, but the Lurgan Blues were well off it in the second period, unable to compete with a Coleraine side who upped their intensity after the half-time break.

Glenavon’s attention turns to the Mid-Ulster Cup on Tuesday night (10th October), when they welcome Newry City to Mourneview Park for a quarter-final tie. Kick-off will be at 7:45pm.

The Lurgan Blues are also at home for their next league fixture on Friday 13th October. Stephen McDonnell’s men will face a stern test on that occasion, as free-scoring Cliftonville are the visitors to Mourneview Park. Again, kick-off for that one will be at 7:45pm.

Coleraine: 1. Gareth Deane (GK), 2. Lyndon Kane (C), 3. Dean Jarvis, 7. Conor McKendry, 9. Matthew Shevlin, 11. Joshua Carson, 16. Lee Lynch, 20. Darren Cole, 21. Jack O’Mahony, 23. Jake Wallace, 29. Andrew Scott

Subs: 28. Lee McLaughlin (for 21. Jack O’Mahony, 67’), 6. Aaron Jarvis (for 29. Andrew Scott, 90’), 22. Andrew Mitchell (for 9. Matthew Shevlin, 90’); not used: 12. Martin Gallagher (GK), 10. David McDaid, 14. Kieran Farren, 31. Senan Devine

Goals: 11. Joshua Carson (44’), 7. Conor McKendry (73’, 90+4’), 9. Matthew Shevlin (88’)

Yellow cards: 29. Andrew Scott (16’), 7. Conor McKendry (70’)

Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 8. Jack Malone, 10. Peter Campbell, 11. Niall Quinn, 16. Isaac Baird, 20. Stephen Teggart, 21. Aaron Prendergast, 23. Daniel Wallace (C), 30. Sean Ward

Subs: 22. Tiarnan Mulvenna (for 2. Conor Kerr, 61’), 29. Jackson Nesbitt (for 10. Peter Campbell, 61’), 34. Cohen Henderson (for 21. Aaron Prendergast, 73’); not used: 31. Ben Purvis (GK), 26. Adam Davidson, 32. Bobby Harvey

Goals: 8. Jack Malone (6’)

Yellow cards: 2. Conor Kerr (46’), 10. Peter Campbell (58’), 30. Sean Ward (87’)

Referee: Raymond Crangle