Glenavon 0-2 Linfield

Sports Direct Premiership

Mourneview Park

Saturday 16th December 2023

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon were defeated 2-0 by Linfield at Mourneview Park on Saturday afternoon, with the Lurgan Blues playing more than 70 minutes of the game with 10 men after Robert Garrett was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew.

Young Rhys Annett gave the visitors the lead in the 34th minute when he fired into the bottom corner after he’d been found inside the box with a pass from Kyle McClean.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Glenavon battled courageously for the remainder of the game, but if truth be told, the hosts never really looked like finding an equaliser, and Joel Cooper sealed the win for Linfield with 75 minutes on the clock when he drilled a low shot into the net after he’d been played in on the left by substitute Aodhan Doherty.

There was an even enough start to the game, with McClean firing wide of Rory Brown’s left-hand post for Linfield in the eighth minute, before Jack Malone hit the target with a first-time shot from outside the box for Glenavon five minutes later after Peter Campbell had pulled the ball back from the right.

Linfield threatened again in the 17th minute when Millar got in on the right. Brown managed to get something on the shot, however, before a Glenavon defender cleared the danger.

The complexion of the match changed moments later when Garrett was given his marching orders for a robust tackle on Mulgrew. The Glenavon midfielder took a heavy touch midway inside his own half, then lunged in as he tried to recover. Garrett may have initially made contact with the ball, but his studs were up, and he caught Mulgrew high with his follow-through. Referee Evan Boyce didn’t hesitate to produce a red card.

It was always going to be backs against the wall for Glenavon thereafter, and Cooper went close for the away side in the 29th minute when he curled a left-foot shot past the far post from the edge of the box.

Cooper had another pop at goal three minutes later when a free kick from just outside the penalty area was played short to him. The forward’s low shot was blocked on that occasion.

The pressure finally told on 33 minutes. McClean picked the ball up on the right and drove into the Glenavon box before squaring for Annett. The young attacker took one touch to set himself before striking a low shot with his right foot which arrowed into the far bottom corner after having gone through the legs of Matthew Snoddy.

Glenavon tried to respond a couple of minutes after the opening goal. Again, it was Campbell who found Malone with a pass inside from the right flank. This time, the midfielder’s low shot went wide of Chris Johns’ right-hand post.

Linfield might have added to their lead in the 43rd minute when two former Glenavon players combined, with Cooper, having been gifted the ball by a poor attempted clearance from Brown, slipping in Matthew Fitzpatrick. The striker’s subsequent shot came back off the base of the post. Millar picked up the rebound, but he could only fire wide of the far post with his follow-up effort, and so the scoreline remained 1-0 at the break.

Linfield went in search of a second goal in the early stages of the second half, and Calum Birney was twice called into action in the Glenavon defence. First, he blocked from Daniel Finlayson on 52 minutes, then from Fitzpatrick three minutes after that.

Millar went close for Linfield in the 63rd minute, shooting narrowly wide of Brown’s left-hand post, while Glenavon captain Niall Quinn flashed a left-foot shot across the face of the Linfield goal two minutes later after he’d been found with a diagonal pass from Campbell.

Campbell was involved again a minute later when he hit the target with a low left-foot shot. Johns was able to make a routine save.

Linfield came agonisingly close to doubling their lead on 67 minutes. Millar picked out McClean with a free kick from the right, and the midfielder saw his header strike the angle of post and crossbar. Linfield recycled the ball, and Cooper let fly with a shot from 25 yards, which Brown did well to tip over the bar.

The second goal did eventually arrive in the 76th minute. Doherty had only been on the pitch for a few minutes when he controlled the ball inside the centre circle and turned smartly to evade Glenavon substitute Tiarnan Mulvenna. The 17-year-old then picked out the run of Cooper with a low pass. Linfield’s top scorer gathered the ball on the left and carried it into the penalty area before drilling a low left-foot shot beyond the dive of Brown and into the far corner to seal the victory which sees Linfield return to the top of the Sports Direct Premiership standings.

Glenavon now occupy eighth place in the table, with Carrick Rangers having moved above the Lurgan Blues following their 2-0 victory away at Ballymena United on Friday night.

Stephen McDonnell’s side welcome fifth-placed Crusaders to Mourneview Park next Saturday (23rd December) for their final fixture before Christmas. Kick-off will be at 3pm.

MATCH SPONSOR – Noel Cunningham

BALL SPONSOR – Jack Pringle


Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 4. Calum Birney, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 8. Jack Malone, 10. Peter Campbell, 11. Niall Quinn (C), 16. Isaac Baird, 17. Conor McCloskey, 21. Aaron Prendergast, 28. Robert Garrett

Subs: 30. Sean Ward (for 17. Conor McCloskey, 25’), 22. Tiarnan Mulvenna (for 21. Aaron Prendergast, 57’), 20. Stephen Teggart (for 4. Calum Birney, 81’); not used: 31. Ben Purvis (GK), 27. Jamie McDonagh, 34. Cohen Henderson, 49. Daniel Shiel

Goals: N/A

Yellow cards: 11. Niall Quinn (11’), 8. Jack Malone (58’), 2. Conor Kerr (60’), 4. Calum Birney (67’), 7. Matthew Snoddy (76’)

Red cards: 28. Robert Garrett (18’)

Linfield: 1. Christopher Johns (GK), 2. Daniel Finlayson, 3. Euan East, 7. Kirk Millar, 8. Kyle McClean, 9. Joel Cooper, 15. Ben Hall, 16. Matthew Clarke, 22. Jamie Mulgrew (C), 29. Matthew Fitzpatrick, 36. Rhys Annett

Subs: 53. Joshua Archer (for 22. Jamie Mulgrew, 46’), 60. Aodhan Doherty (for 36. Rhys Annett, 69’), 64. Braiden Graham (for 7. Kirk Millar, 85’), 4. Michael Newberry (for 3. Euan East, 89’); not used: 51. David Walsh (GK), 34. Dane McCullough, 37. Ryan McKay

Goals: 36. Rhys Annett (34’), 9. Joel Cooper (76’)

Yellow cards: 8. Kyle McClean (45+2’), 29. Matthew Fitzpatrick (61’), 9. Joel Cooper (90+2’)

Referee: Evan Boyce