Newry City 0-3 Glenavon

Sports Direct Premiership

Newry Showgrounds

Friday 24th November 2023

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon moved up to seventh spot in the Sports Direct Premiership standings following a comfortable 3-0 victory away to bottom club Newry City on Friday night.

Jack Malone gave the Lurgan Blues the lead in the 35th minute when his low shot went in off the post as part of a clever free-kick routine executed with Conor McCloskey.

It was McCloskey’s shot which then led to the second goal, as Newry goalkeeper Tom Murphy failed to hold onto the ball, spilling it at the feet of the grateful Aaron Prendergast, who slotted home.

Substitute Stephen Teggart sealed the win for Glenavon in the 90th minute when he ran onto a quick Niall Quinn free kick before driving a low shot under the onrushing Murphy and into the net.

Glenavon did start the brighter of the two teams, and there were half-hearted appeals for a penalty in the third minute when a Peter Campbell cross from the right possibly struck the arm of a Newry defender. Referee Raymond Crangle was uninterested, though.

Eleven minutes after that, Isaac Baird, who put in another impressive performance in the Glenavon midfield, glanced a header wide of the post from a corner kick.

Campbell was involved again on 18 minutes when he almost slipped McCloskey in on goal, only for a vital interception from a Newry defender to snuff out the danger.

The home side did come more into the game as the first half wore on, and if truth be told, Glenavon’s opening goal actually arrived against the run of play in the 35th minute. The visitors won a free kick out on the right flank. It looked as if McCloskey was going to whip a cross into the box. Instead, he played a low ball towards the edge of the ‘D’. Malone met it on the run and struck a low first-time shot with his right foot which hit the inside of the post before finding the net. It was a goal of real quality, and certainly bore hallmarks of a move that had been practised on the training pitch.

McCloskey might have added his name to the scoresheet three minutes after Malone’s opener when he was picked out with a cross from the right which was delivered by Prendergast, but Glenavon’s number 17 sent his header wide of the far post.

The same two players were involved when Glenavon did double their lead in the 41st minute. McCloskey received a pass from Malone out on the left wing, and he cut inside before curling a shot on goal with his right foot. The effort lacked venom, and it should have been an easy save for Murphy, but the Newry ‘keeper made a real mess of it, palming the ball out to the feet of Prendergast just outside the six-yard box. The young striker gratefully received the gift, steadying himself with his first touch before slotting the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot to make it 2-0, and that was how it remained at the half-time break.

Similarly to the previous weekend’s match against Loughgall, the second half lacked the intensity of the first, and the hosts rarely looked like getting back into the game. Indeed, it was Glenavon who threatened again two minutes after the restart when Campbell nearly found Prendergast with a low cross from the left. Noel Healy did well to get to the ball ahead of Prendergast, and Murphy was then able to gather.

With 56 minutes on the clock, Baird let fly with a shot from distance, but the ball drifted harmlessly wide of the target.

The closest City came to getting on the scoreboard was on the hour mark. Captain Liam Bagnall lofted a ball down the right flank to find Adam Salley, who sent in a low first-time cross with his right foot. Conor Kerr attempted to clear the ball, but it struck substitute Adam Carroll before falling invitingly for John McGovern between the six-yard line and the penalty spot. McGovern’s low shot found the target, but Rory Brown saved with his right boot to preserve his clean sheet.

Campbell had a good shooting opportunity when Glenavon were awarded a free kick 20 yards from goal on 73 minutes, but the winger sent his effort sailing over the crossbar. He’ll be disappointed not to have done better.

In the penultimate minute of normal time, Newry won a free kick out on the right. Georgie Poynton delivered the ball into the box and McGovern got his head to it. His header did find the target, but it was straight at Brown, and the Glenavon stopper made a routine save.

There was still time for the Lurgan Blues to add gloss to their victory, as captain Quinn took a quick free kick from just inside the Newry half in the 90th minute, clipping a ball over the top of the home side’s defence for Teggart to run onto. The substitute hit a low first-time shot with his right foot, driving the ball beneath Murphy, who had charged off his line, to find the net and seal an impressive fifth successive league win for Glenavon.

Manager Stephen McDonnell will be delighted with the upturn in form from his side in recent weeks, especially considering that the Lurgan Blues were languishing at the foot of the table when this run of wins started.

This latest victory sees Glenavon move up into seventh place in the league table, a point above Loughgall (although the Villagers do have a game in hand at the time of writing). More importantly, McDonnell’s men are now 12 points clear of Newry at the foot of the table.

One particularly pleasing aspect of recent performances is the defensive improvement, with Glenavon having now kept four clean sheets in a row and conceded just one goal in their run of five consecutive victories.

There are sterner tests awaiting in the league, however. Next month, the Lurgan Blues host Coleraine, Linfield and Crusaders at Mourneview Park, as well as having to travel to current table-toppers Larne, all before a return to the Showgrounds to take on Newry on Boxing Day.

Glenavon’s next fixture is the rearranged League Cup last-16 tie away to Limavady United on Tuesday night (28th November). Kick-off at the Limavady Showgrounds will be at 7:45pm.

Newry City: 31. Tom Murphy (GK), 3. Noel Healy, 4. Ryan McGivern, 5. Barney McKeown, 11. John McGovern, 14. Adam Salley, 16. Liam Bagnall (C), 18. Stephen Moan, 29. Brian Newell, 38. Georgie Poynton, 39. Daragh Owens

Subs: 8. Adam Carroll (for 29. Brian Newell, 54’), 49. Paul McGovern (for 39. Daragh Owens, 65’); not used: 1. Steven Maguire (GK), 2. Darren King, 15. Michael O’Connor, 19. Brian Healy, 36. Jordan Mooney

Goals: N/A

Yellow cards: 4. Ryan McGivern (57’), 16. Liam Bagnall (79’), 5. Barney McKeown (86’)

Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 8. Jack Malone, 10. Peter Campbell, 11. Niall Quinn (C), 16. Isaac Baird, 17. Conor McCloskey, 21. Aaron Prendergast, 23. Daniel Wallace, 28. Robert Garrett

Subs: 22. Tiarnan Mulvenna (for 28. Robert Garrett, 64’), 30. Sean Ward (for 8. Jack Malone, 64’), 3. Aaron Rogers (for 17. Conor McCloskey, 71’), 34. Cohen Henderson (for 21. Aaron Prendergast, 71’), 20. Stephen Teggart (for 10. Peter Campbell, 79’); not used: 31. Ben Purvis (GK), 48. Daniel Shiel

Goals: 8. Jack Malone (35’), 21. Aaron Prendergast (41’), 20. Stephen Teggart (90’)

Yellow cards: N/A

Referee: Raymond Crangle