Glenavon 1-1 Coleraine

Sports Direct Premiership

Mourneview Park

Saturday 2nd December 2023

Match report by Calum Jones

Substitute Calum Birney’s injury-time equaliser rescued a point for ten-man Glenavon as they drew 1-1 at home to Coleraine on Saturday afternoon, extending their unbeaten league run to six matches.

Referee Shane Andrews showed a straight red card to Danny Wallace for a tackle on Aaron Jarvis in the penultimate minute of the first half.

The ten men of the Lurgan Blues held firm until the 78th minute, when Jamie Glackin found the net with a low first-time shot following Andrew Mitchell’s knockdown.

It looked like Glenavon’s impressive league run was coming to an end, but manager Stephen McDonnell threw the dice by bringing Birney off the bench and sending the big defender up front.

It worked, as Birney got his boot to the ball in injury time after fellow substitute Stephen Teggart had drilled it across the penalty area, diverting it inside the far post to earn Glenavon a hard-fought point.

The first half was an open, even contest. Glenavon threatened in the third minute when Wallace got his head to a Niall Quinn corner, but his effort was blocked by a Coleraine defender.

Conor McCloskey produced a great piece of play on the right wing with eight minutes on the clock, beating fullback Senan Devine before driving in a low cross, and the ball eventually fell for Isaac Baird. The midfielder’s subsequent shot was deflected behind for a corner.

Peter Campbell fired a shot over the bar for Glenavon on 17 minutes from outside the box, while Rory Brown was called into action in the Glenavon goal a minute later. Davy McDaid hit the target with a right-foot shot from 20 yards which arrived at an awkward height for the goalkeeper, but he got down and saved well.

McDaid threatened again 10 minutes later when it appeared as though he was going to break clear in the box, but the impressive Conor Kerr made an excellent tackle to deny the former Larne striker.

It was McDaid who was presented with the best chance of the first half when Conor McKendry picked him out with a cross from the right in the 36th minute. McDaid met the ball at the back post and looked certain to score, only to send his header wide of Brown’s left-hand post.

The pivotal moment of the game occurred a minute before the end of normal time at the close of the first half. Wallace tackled Aaron Jarvis just outside the centre circle. The Glenavon defender’s boot was high, but replays suggest that he did get plenty of the ball. Nevertheless, referee Andrews didn’t hesitate to produce the red card to dismiss Wallace for the tackle, and so the Lurgan Blues were forced to play the entirety of the second half with 10 players.

Despite their numerical advantage, Coleraine failed to put Glenavon under any real pressure for much of the second period. Glackin did deliver a wicked free kick from the right on the hour mark, but none of his teammates could get a touch on it.

A minute later at the other end, Jack Malone saw his shot from distance go wide of the target.

The away side did manage to get their noses in front in the 78th minute. Dean Jarvis sent a long ball forward to find Mitchell on the edge of the Glenavon box. The former Glenavon striker nodded the ball down into the path of Glackin, who struck a first-time shot with his right foot from 18 yards out. The low strike arrowed into the bottom corner, giving Brown no chance.

With Glenavon’s unbeaten league run in jeopardy, McDonnell decided it was time to throw caution to the wind, and he brought Birney off the bench to deploy him as a makeshift centre forward. Regarding the decision, the Lurgan Blues manager was quoted in the Belfast Telegraph after the game as saying that, ‘I felt we had to gamble and I would rather lose 2-0 and had a go.’

The gamble paid off in the first minute of added time. Substitute Sean Ward played a pass down the left flank to find Campbell, and the winger sent a low cross into the box which was picked up by Teggart. His first touch saw the ball bounce up for him off his right boot, and with his second touch he drilled the ball towards the six-yard box with his left foot. Teggart’s effort may well have been a shot, but Birney was in the right place at the right time, lurking between the penalty spot and six-yard line. Glenavon’s number four stuck out his right boot and poked the ball into the far bottom corner to send Mourneview Park into raptures.

Birney’s strike may only have rescued a point for the Lurgan Blues, but given the circumstances, it felt more like a winning goal than an equaliser.

Glenavon and Coleraine will meet again at the Showgrounds on Tuesday night (5th December) for a BetMcLean League Cup quarter-final tie. Kick-off will be at 7:45pm.

It’s back to league action on Friday night (8th December), when Glenavon travel to face reigning champions Larne at Inver Park. Kick-off for that one is also at 7:45pm.

MATCH SPONSOR – McCleary and Co. Accountants

BALL SPONSOR – Paul Greenfield

MAN OF THE MATCH SPONSOR – Richard and Barry Johnson

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: 30. Sean Ward (for 11. Niall Quinn, 46’), 22. Tiarnan Mulvenna (for 17. Conor McCloskey, 71’), 4. Calum Birney (for 28. Robert Garrett, 82’), 20. Stephen Teggart (for 21. Aaron Prendergast, 84’), 49. Daniel Shiel (for 8. Jack Malone, 84’); not used: 31. Ben Purvis (GK), 34. Cohen Henderson

Goals: 4. Calum Birney (90+1’)

Yellow cards: 10. Peter Campbell (69’), 28. Robert Garrett (80’)

Red cards: 23. Daniel Wallace (44’)

Coleraine: 1. Gareth Deane (GK), 2. Lyndon Kane (C), 3. Dean Jarvis, 5. Graham Kelly, 6. Aaron Jarvis, 7. Conor McKendry, 10. David McDaid, 14. Kieran Farren, 16. Lee Lynch, 17. Jamie Glackin, 31. Senan Devine

Subs: 22. Andrew Mitchell (for 31. Senan Devine, 54’), 28. Lee McLaughlin (for 5. Graham Kelly, 78’), 21. Jack O’Mahony (for 17. Jamie Glackin, 83’), 26. Michael McCrudden (for 10. David McDaid, 83’); not used: 12. Martin Gallagher (GK), 23. Jake Wallace, 32. Alfie Gaston

Goals: 17. Jamie Glackin (78’)

Yellow cards: 17. Jamie Glackin (62’), 6. Aaron Jarvis (for 66’)

Referee: Shane Andrews