Carrick Rangers 0-2 Glenavon

Sports Direct Premiership

Loughview Leisure Arena

Saturday 13th January 2024

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon moved up into the top six with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Carrick Rangers at Taylors Avenue on Saturday afternoon.

Matthew Snoddy put the Lurgan Blues ahead right on the stroke of half-time when he glanced a header into the net after Calum Birney had flicked on James Doona’s cross.

Glenavon were awarded a penalty in the 69th minute when Carrick captain David Cushley was penalised for handball. Jack Malone saw his spot kick saved by goalkeeper Ross Glendinning, but Snoddy was able to square the rebound to Peter Campbell, who side-footed home from close range to double the away side’s lead.

The hosts finished the game with 10 men when Joe Crowe picked up two bookings in quick succession in injury time, the second for a daft push on Glenavon substitute Jamie Doran.

Carrick enjoyed a spell of pressure in the opening minutes of the game. Former Glenavon forward Danny Purkis cut in from the right in the second minute and fired a low shot wide of the near post with his left foot.

The home side really should have grabbed the lead on nine minutes. Ben Tilney slipped a pass out to Nedas Maciulaitis on the left flank. Maciulaitis did well to accelerate past David Toure before cutting the ball back for Emmett McGuckin. The striker met it on the six-yard line and looked certain to score, only to drag his shot wide of the far post.

Two minutes later, the impressive Tilney set off on a mazy run from wide on the left, dribbling into the penalty area to create a shooting opportunity for himself. He hit the target with his effort, but it was tame and straight at Glenavon goalkeeper Gareth Deane.

Moments after that at the other end, Doona carried the ball over the halfway line and drove towards the Carrick goal, then played a pass through for Malone on the right side of the penalty area. The midfielder’s subsequent shot was struck well, and Glendinning had to dive down to his left to keep it out.

Doona had a good game for Glenavon, and he was involved again three minutes later. This time he took a free kick from out on the left. The winger whipped the ball in on goal, and Glendinning had to leap up and palm it behind.

Captain Niall Quinn took the resulting corner. Calum Birney managed to get his head to the ball and nod it down into the six-yard box. Snoddy did well to control the ball and play it back to Birney, but the centre-back could only poke a shot wide when he really should have hit the target.

Campbell battled well just outside the box in the 25th minute to force a pass out to Malone on the left. He took one touch to set himself before curling a shot towards the far corner with his right foot. Glendinning got down to his left to tip the ball round the post.

The Carrick stopper was called into action again on 36 minutes. Snoddy slipped a pass into the box for Campbell and the forward struck a low first-time shot with his left foot. Glendinning dived down to his right this time to make the save, although the ball may have been going wide of the near post anyway.

Darren Clarke went down in the Carrick box two minutes later, but referee Tim Marshall was uninterested in the penalty appeals.

The deadlock was broken in the final minute of the first half. Doona whipped in a free kick from the left which Purkis managed to head away from the Carrick goal. Cushley then mishit an attempted clearance to present the ball back to Doona. The winger drove it into the box at pace. Birney managed to get a touch on the ball, flicking it on with his head, and the ball then glanced off the head of Snoddy before nestling in the far bottom corner. How much Snoddy knew about it, only he could say.

Glenavon looked comfortable with their slender advantage in the early stages of the second half, but the home side came within inches of equalising in the 68th minute. Lewis Mackinnon slipped Purkis in on the right side of the box. The forward hit a low shot with his right foot across goal which struck the base of the far post, with Deane well beaten.

The game was settled moments later. Glenavon were awarded a penalty when Cushley was adjudged to have blocked an attempted cross from Campbell with his arm. Malone struck the spot kick, but Glendinning dived down to his left to save it. Snoddy reacted quickly, however, getting to the ball first and squaring it to Campbell, who was left with the simple task of tapping in from inside the six-yard box to double the lead.

The home side had strong shouts for a penalty of their own on 75 minutes when Purkis went down under a challenge from Toure, but referee Marshall waved away the appeals.

Carrick were reduced to 10 men deep into injury time. Having picked up a yellow card just moments earlier, Crowe then proceeded to stupidly push Doran over just beyond the byline, and Marshall duly produced the second yellow card, followed by the inevitable red.

Glenavon went into this fixture in ninth place in the league standings, but their victory over Carrick, along with Loughgall’s defeat to Linfield and Coleraine’s thrashing at the hands of Glentoran, means the Lurgan Blues have now leapt up three places into sixth spot.

Now, of course, attention turns to the massive League Cup semi-final showdown against Mid-Ulster rivals Portadown on Tuesday night (16th January). With home tickets already sold out, there promises to be a raucous atmosphere inside Mourneview Park. Kick-off will be at 7:45pm.

Carrick Rangers: 1. Ross Glendinning (GK), 3. Cameron Stewart, 6. Steven Gordon, 7. David Cushley (C), 9. Emmett McGuckin, 11. Nedas Maciulaitis, 12. Lewis MacKinnon, 19. Joe Crowe, 23. Reece Glendinning, 24. Daniel Purkis, 39. Ben Tilney

Subs: 2. Kurtis Forsythe (for 39. Ben Tilney, 52’), 10. Curtis Allen (for 7. David Cushley, 71’), 8. Andrew Mitchell (for 9. Emmett McGuckin, 71’), 20. Kyle Cherry (for 11. Nedas Maciulaitis, 83’); not used: 25. Ben McCauley (GK), 4. Mark Surgenor, 15. Benjamin Buchanan-Rolleston,

Goals: N/A

Yellow cards: 9. Emmett McGuckin (64’), 20. Kyle Cherry (90+3’), 19. Joe Crowe (90+4’, 90+5’), 23. Reece Glendinning (90+6’)

Red cards: 19. Joe Crowe (90+5’) (second bookable offence)

Glenavon: 44. Gareth Deane (GK), 4. Calum Birney, 5. David Toure, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 8. Jack Malone, 10. Peter Campbell, 11. Niall Quinn (C), 16. Isaac Baird, 23. Daniel Wallace, 25. Darren Clarke, 39. James Doona

Subs: 9. Gavin Hodgins (for 25. Darren Clarke, 67’), 28. Robert Garrett (for 8. Jack Malone, 73’), 20. Stephen Teggart (for 10. Peter Campbell, 77’), 24. Jamie Doran (for 39. James Doona, 77’); not used: 13. Mark Byrne (GK), 2. Conor Kerr

Goals: 7. Matthew Snoddy (45’), 10. Peter Campbell (69’)

Yellow cards: 23. Daniel Wallace (59’), 7. Matthew Snoddy (81’)

Referee: Tim Marshall