Glentoran 3 Glenavon 1

Sports Direct Premiership

The Oval, Belfast

Saturday 21st October 2023

Glenavon slumped to a fifth successive league defeat against Glentoran. Two goals by Junior in the opening 15 minutes effectively ended the contest. That said, despite trailing 3-0 at the break, the visitors battled gamely during the second half and pulled a goal back in injury-time.

Junior (3, 12 mins) and Paddy McClean (45 mins) were the men on target for the home side. Jack Malone (90+1 mins) replied for the visitors.

In the opening minutes Glentoran took the game by the scruff of the neck. Cameron Palmer and Jay Donnelly exchanged passes from a corner kick before Palmer crossed low for Junior to swivel and shoot past Rory Brown from 8 yards.

Eight minutes later Junior headed wide from another dangerous  cross.

Soon afterwards Glentoran went two goals ahead. Daire O’Connor’s cross from the right caused panic in the Glenavon penalty area. When James Singleton’s shot was blocked, Bobby Burns had another goal attempt from 6 yards. The second effort was cleared but O’Connor immediately sent the ball back into the danger zone. Cameron Palmer directed a snap shot wide of the goal but Junior, standing in what appeared to be an offside position, beat Brown from close range. The visitors’ goalkeeper was subsequently cautioned by referee Jamie Robinson for his vehement protests about the legality of the goal.

The home side almost scored a third when Junior intercepted a poor clearance by Brown and, with the goalkeeper in no man’s land, shot narrowly wide.

In the 21st minute Glenavon almost pulled one back. Peter Campbell’s corner was missed by both Bobby Burns and Junior at the near post but Isaac Baird, standing only 4-5 yards out, failed to make a clean connection and McCarey made an instinctive save.

At the other end James Singleton found Daire O’Connor inside the 18 yard box but Danny Wallace was on hand to block the right winger’s shot.

Aaron Rogers entered the fray as a replacement for the injured Sean Ward. Almost immediately the Lurgan man picked out Teggart with a cross from the left, but the right-sided attacking midfielder headed wide.

Junior, eyeing a hat-trick, found space on the edge of the penalty area and unloaded a low shot which Brown saved. A few minutes later Jay Donnelly made a clean right foot connection with Luke McCullough’s long forward pass, but the Glenavon goalkeeper dived full length to again keep the ball out.

Glentoran consolidated its lead when Paddy McClean got his head to Palmer’s corner-kick. The ball crossed the goal line despite Peter Campbell’s best efforts to keep it out.

Just before the break Glenavon right sided midfielder Stephen Teggart played a wall pass with Conor McCloskey and delivered a superb cross into the penalty-area which Isaac Baird almost reached with his head.

At the start of the second half Bobby Burns tested the visitors’ defence with a teasing cross from the left. When Jay Donnelly shot from 8 yards Rory Brown used his upper body to guard his goal.

Jack Malone picked out Peter Campbell from a corner-kick, but the Richhill man blazed over the crossbar.

In the 69th minute Campbell hit an early cross into the path of substitute Aaron Prendergast. With the goal at his mercy, he hooked his right-foot shot wide.

Six minutes later Aaron Rogers found Jack Malone on the edge of the penalty area. The former Derry City midfielder tested McCarey with an accurate drive. When the rebound fell to Prendergast, he allowed the Glentoran keeper to save with his legs.

In the closing minutes both Junior and substitute Niall McGinn shot wildly over the crossbar.

Then the visitors pulled a goal back. Jack Malone hit a free kick from 22 yards over the Glentoran wall and past McCarey.

Overall, a disappointing performance by Glenavon, particularly in defence.

GLENTORAN: McCarey, McCullough, Wilson, Burns, J. Donnelly, O’Connor, Singleton, Sule, Palmer, McClean, Junior, SUBS: Webber (not used), Kane for Wilson (77 mins), McCartan for Singleton (80 mins), R. Donnelly (not used), Fisher for J. Donnelly (72 mins), Kelly for Palmer (72 mins), McGinn for O’Conor ((77 mins).

Yellow Cards: Singleton (17’), Wilson (40’), J. Donnelly (63’)

GLENAVON: Brown, Snoddy, Kerr, Wallace, Ward, Baird, Garrett, Teggart, Malone, McCloskey, Campbell, SUBS: Gracey (not used), Rogers for Ward (30 mins), Prendergast for Teggart (62 mins), Mulvenna for Garrett (74 mins), Davidson (not used), Nesbitt (not used), Henderson for McCloskey (74 mins).

Yellow Cards: Brown (14’), Wallace (53’)

REFEREE: Jamie Robinson.