Glenavon 0-1 Cliftonville
Sports Direct Premiership
Friday 13th October 2023
Match report by Calum Jones
Glenavon were narrowly beaten 1-0 by high-flying Cliftonville at Mourneview Park on Friday night.
Despite being on top for large periods of the first half, the Lurgan Blues failed to find a breakthrough, and they were punished six minutes after the restart when Rory Hale fired home what proved to be the winning goal.
The free-scoring Reds, currently in second position in the Premiership table, had won each of their previous two league games by 5-0 scorelines, and they almost went in front against Glenavon in the opening minute of the match. The in-form Ben Wilson rounded Rory Brown before pulling the ball back from the left to find Joe Gormley. The Cliftonville captain steered his shot on target from close range, but Glenavon goalkeeper Brown had got back to his goal, and he reacted well to make an impressive save, tipping the ball onto the bar.
Glenavon soon found their footing in the game following that early scare, and Stephen Teggart delivered a good cross from the right flank on six minutes to find Peter Campbell at the back post. The winger couldn’t direct his volleyed effort on target from a tight angle, however.
In the 13th minute, sponsor’s Man of the Match Robbie Garrett drove forward and found the target with a low shot from 25 yards. Cliftonville keeper David Odumosu had to dive down to his right to make the stop.
After a lull in intensity as the game passed the midway point of the first half, it came to life again on 33 minutes when Matthew Snoddy intercepted the ball in midfield and carried it towards the Cliftonville penalty area before feeding a pass inside to Jack Malone. The midfielder curled a shot over the bar with his right foot from outside the box.
Malone was presented with another shooting opportunity just a minute later when he was teed up in a similar area following some brilliant build-up play involving Conor McCloskey, Teggart and the impressive Isaac Baird. This time Malone went much closer, as his first-time shot curled narrowly wide of Odumosu’s left-hand post.
The early portion of the second half bore a startling resemblance to recent defeats Glenavon suffered against Larne and Coleraine, in that the momentum swung decisively in Cliftonville’s favour.
Rory Hale came within inches of opening the scoring when he saw his first-time right-foot shot hit the crossbar in the first minute of the second half after he’d been teed up by Wilson.
In the 47th minute, Danny Wallace did well to block a Ronan Doherty shot.
Rory Hale scored the only goal of the game four minutes later. Shea Kearney was strong in the tackle to come out on top in a challenge with Malone, and the young midfielder played a through-ball into the path of Hale, who found himself with space and time in the Glenavon penalty area. Hale steadied himself before striking a right-foot shot from 10 yards. The ball may have taken a deflection off Sean Ward as the Glenavon defender attempted to make a last-gasp block, and it flew past Brown and into the net.
The visitors might have grabbed a second goal five minutes later when Gormley got on the end of a long ball over the top. The striker produced a good first touch to bring the ball under control, then fired a low shot on target. Brown was able to keep it out with his feet.
Gormley got in again a minute later, this time on the left side of the box. Again, he hit the target, this time with a shot from a tight angle, but Brown was able to make another save.
The Irish Premiership’s top scorer Wilson nearly added his name to the scoresheet for Cliftonville a minute before the hour mark when his low shot from 20 yards struck the base of the left post. Gormley picked up the loose ball and attempted a follow-up shot, but the referee quickly stopped play for offside.
Glenavon did come back into the game a bit as the second half wore on. Snoddy won the ball in the final third on 72 minutes and had a pop at goal, but his low shot drifted harmlessly wide of the far post.
A minute later, Odumosu, who had an otherwise solid game in goal for Cliftonville, dropped a cross and presented Teggart with a shooting chance. The Cliftonville stopper recovered well, though, to block Teggart’s shot and prevent a goal.
Kearney showed good skill to beat Glenavon substitute Conor Kerr close to the byline on 75 minutes before firing a dangerous low cross into the box. Ward was alert enough to put it behind. From the resulting corner, the ball went narrowly wide of the far post after it had come off a Glenavon player.
Wilson struck the post for the second time in the match in the 81st minute with a shot that was virtually a carbon copy of his earlier effort after he had brought a long ball under control with a superb first touch.
Cliftonville substitute Ronan Hale put the ball in the net in the first minute of added time, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Glenavon had just one opportunity in stoppage time, which fell the way of substitute Aaron Prendergast in the final minute. In truth, it was no more than a half-chance for the young forward, and he screwed a shot wide of the near post with his weaker left foot, as the game finished 1-0 to Cliftonville.
Glenavon remain in 11th place in the league standings, one point clear of bottom side Ballymena United.
Next Saturday (21st October) sees the Lurgan Blues travel to the Oval to take on fifth-placed Glentoran. Kick-off will be at 3pm.
MATCH SPONSOR – Lockton Insurance
BALL SPONSOR – In Memory of John Sinnamon
MAN OF THE MATCH SPONSOR – Hubert Watson
Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 7. Matthew Snoddy, 8. Jack Malone, 10. Peter Campbell, 11. Niall Quinn (C), 16. Isaac Baird, 17. Conor McCloskey, 20. Stephen Teggart, 23. Daniel Wallace, 28. Robert Garrett, 30. Sean Ward
Subs: 2. Conor Kerr (for 11. Niall Quinn, 56’), 34. Cohen Henderson (for 20. Stephen Teggart, 80’), 22. Tiarnan Mulvenna (for 28. Robert Garrett, 80’), 21. Aaron Prendergast (for 17. Conor McCloskey, 84’); not used: 31. Ben Purvis (GK), 3. Aaron Rogers, 29. Jackson Nesbitt
Yellow cards: N/A
Cliftonville: 23. David Odumosu (GK), 4. Jonathan Addis, 6. Christopher Gallagher, 8. Rory Hale, 15. Reece Jordan, 17. Ronan Doherty, 19. Joseph Gormley (C), 22. Odhran Casey, 24. Luke Turner, 26. Shea Kearney, 27. Ben Wilson
Subs: 7. Chris Curran (for 8. Rory Hale, 75’), 20. Samuel Ashford (for 19. Joseph Gormley, 82’), 25. Ronan Hale (for 27. Ben Wilson, 82’); not used: 40. Orann Donnelly (GK), 5. Luke Kenny, 10. Stephen Mallon, 13. Kris Lowe
Goals: 8. Rory Hale (51’)
Yellow cards: N/A
Referee: Ben McMaster