Glenavon 0-1 Portadown

BetMcLean League Cup – Semi-final

Mourneview Park

Tuesday 16th January 2024

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon slumped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mid-Ulster rivals Portadown in the semi-final of the BetMcLean League Cup at Mourneview Park on Tuesday night.

Ryan Mayse scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 27th minute, after Zach Barr had gone down under a challenge from Glenavon goalkeeper Mark Byrne.

The Lurgan Blues had plenty of possession but struggled to break down the dogged Ports to create clear-cut chances, and the Championship side held on to set up a final against defending champions Linfield, who beat Dungannon Swifts 2-1 in the other semi.

Unsurprisingly, given that a cup final spot was up for grabs, there was a cagey start to the game. Mayse did get on the end of a low cross from Eamon Fyfe for the visitors with 10 minutes on the clock, but he couldn’t fashion a shooting chance for himself.

James Doona delivered a free kick from deep for Glenavon on14 minutes. Danny Wallace got his head to the ball, but his effort went wide of the far post.

The Ports were awarded a penalty in the 26th minute. Dougie Wilson played a long ball over the top of the Glenavon backline, and Barr outpaced Wallace and drove towards goal before poking a shot wide of Byrne’s right-hand post. However, the Glenavon goalkeeper had rushed off his line and dived at the feet of the Portadown forward. The ball may have been rolling wide of the goal when Byrne made contact withBarr, but referee Christopher Morrison decided that the challenge warranted a penalty kick, as well as a yellow card for the Lurgan Blues’ keeper.

Mayse emphatically dispatched the spot kick, drilling the ball inside Byrne’s right-hand post. The goalkeeper dived the right way, but he had no chance of making a save.

The closest Glenavon came to scoring in the first half was through Gavin Hodgins. Calum Birney played a ball down the right flank for David Toure to run onto, and the full-backpicked Hodgins out with a first-time cross on 40 minutes. Hodgins directed his header on target, but Ports keeper Aaron Hogg made a smart save to deny the Glenavon striker, diving to his left and palming the ball away from goal.

Hodgins had another headed chance in the second minute of first-half stoppage time. On this occasion it was Jack Malone who found him with a cross from the left. Hodgins’s glancing header went wide of the far post.

Portadown missed a glorious opportunity to double their lead eight minutes after the restart. Mayse burst clear on the right before squaring the ball to pick out Fyfe just outside the six-yard box. With the goal at his mercy, Portadown’s number 13 fired his first-time shot over the bar.

Malone came within inches of scoring a spectacular equalising goal for Glenavon two minutes later. Doona played a short corner to Niall Quinn on the left, and the Glenavon captain proceeded to play a pass into the path of Malone. The midfielder met the ball some 30 yards from goal and hit a sweetly struck first-time shot with his right foot which cannoned back off the post.

Glenavon continued to see plenty of the ball and probe for an equaliser, but they struggled to create any real goal-scoringchances. Substitute Darren Clarke did get a shot in from a tight angle in the 71st minute after a good run down the right, but his effort was straight at Hogg.

The Lurgan Blues won a free kick in a threatening position on 83 minutes. Malone was given responsibility to take the set piece. He struck his curling shot well, getting the elevation just right, but unfortunately for Glenavon, the ball ended up going a couple of yards wide of the left post.

The visitors might have sealed their win in the 87th minute when Kenny Kane got through on goal. Byrne did well, however, to get off his line quickly and smother the ball at the substitute’s feet.

There was to be one last half-chance for Glenavon deep into injury time. Stephen Teggart hit the target with a shot from the right. Hogg was equal to the substitute’s effort, though, and pushed it behind. The resulting corner came to nothing, andthe final whistle sounded moments later.

Stephen McDonnell will be hoping his players can put the disappointment of this semi-final defeat behind them and bounce back on Friday night (19th January) when they welcome Glentoran to Mourneview Park for a Premiership fixture. Kick-off will be at 7:45pm.

MATCH SPONSOR: Neil Dillon, Alistair Wells and Dean Kennedy

BALL SPONSOR: Leather Restoration Company

MAN OF THE MATCH SPONSOR: Barry Craig and Ethna Ferran

HOSPITALITY SPONSOR: Haffey Sports Grounds

Glenavon: 13. Mark Byrne (GK), 4. Calum Birney, 5. David Toure, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 8. Jack Malone, 9. Gavin Hodgins,10. Peter Campbell, 11. Niall Quinn (C), 16. Isaac Baird, 23. Daniel Wallace, 39. James Doona

Subs: 28. Robert Garrett (for 16. Isaac Baird, 56’), 25. Darren Clarke (for 7. Matthew Snoddy, 56’), 99. Lido Lotefa (for 39. James Doona, 76’), 20. Stephen Teggart (for 9. Gavin Hodgins, 79’); not used: 41. Joshua Gracey (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 21. Aaron Prendergast

Goals: N/A

Yellow cards: 13. Mark Byrne (26’), 7. Matthew Snoddy (30’), 4. Calum Birney (70’)

Portadown: 18. Aaron Hogg (GK), 4. Douglas Wilson, 6. Luke Wilson, 7. Lee Chapman, 8. Eoghan McCawl, 10. Ryan Mayse, 11. Mark Russell, 13. Eamon Fyfe, 16. Aaron Traynor, 17. Zach Barr, 26. Gary Thompson (C)

Subs: 15. Dale Montgomery (for 8. Eoghan McCawl, 61’), 12. Kenneth Kane (for 17. Zach Barr, 72’), 2. Caolin Coyle (for 10. Ryan Mayse, 83’); not used: 33. Gareth Buchanan (C), 3. Ross Redman, 34. Joe Williamson, 35. Joe McKay

Goals: 10. Ryan Mayse (27’) (penalty)

Yellow cards: 8. Eoghan McCawl (18’), 4. Douglas Wilson (33’), 13. Eamon Fyfe (69’), 26. Gary Thompson (69’), 15. Dale Montgomery (73’), 16. Aaron Traynor (90+2’)

Referee: Christopher Morrison