Crusaders 20 Glenavon

Sports Direct Premiership


Saturday 24th February 2024

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon are now without a win in six games in all competitions following yesterday’s 2-0 defeat to Crusaders at Seaview.

The home side went in front in the 10th minute when Jude Winchester’s left-footed shot from distance took a wicked deflection off Danny Wallace to wrong-foot goalkeeper Mark Byrne.

After a lacklustre start to the game, Glenavon improved as the first half wore on, but they couldn’t force an equaliser.

The Crues doubled their lead less than 10 minutes after the break when Ben Kennedy nodded a Ross Clarke cross into the bottom corner to grab his 10th goal of the season.

From then on it was comfortable for Stephen Baxter’s side, as the Lurgan Blues rarely looked like threatening.

Crusaders really should have gone in front in the opening minute of the match. Adam Lecky released Paul Heatley down the left. Heatley delivered a low cross to return the ball to Lecky, who had made a run into the box. The striker hit a low first-time shot that went wide of the near post. It was a real let-off for Glenavon.

On four minutes, Winchester almost got in on goal, but goalkeeper Byrne managed to gather the ball.

At the other end, Peter Campbell teed up Jack Malone for a first-time effort from 20 yards in the seventh minute. The shot went straight at Jonny Tuffey.

The hosts took the lead three minutes later. Jordan Forysthefed the ball infield to Winchester from the right flank. The midfielder carried it towards the ‘D’ before shooting with his left foot. Wallace had closed Winchester down and attemptedto block the shot. The ball took a wicked deflection off the defender’s leg, leaving goalkeeper Byrne stranded, as he was already going to his right when the ball spun away in the other direction, out of his reach and into the net.

Glenavon responded well enough to going behind, and Campbell almost created a chance for Aaron Prendergast with a low cross from the right on 16 minutes. Eventually the ball made its way back to Campbell, and he forced Tuffey into a save with a shot from a tight angle.

After the resulting corner, the ball came back to the set-piece taker, captain Niall Quinn. It may have been an attempted cross, but Quinn’s strike very nearly found the net, as it struck the far post then bounced off the head of the well-beaten Tuffey and behind for another corner.

Another Quinn corner soon after found James Doona at the back post. The winger laid the ball off for Wallace, but the defender’s shot went over the crossbar.

Lecky squandered another great chance for the Crues in the 22nd minute. Forsythe crossed from deep on the right to pick Lecky out. The number nine caught the ball on the volley first time, but he shot wide of the target from close range when he should at least have been working the goalkeeper.

Glenavon did put Crusaders under some spells of pressure at times in the first half, without really managing to test Tuffey. Quinn sent a free kick over the bar from a good position in the 23rd minute, while Doona also fired over with a snapshot from distance three minutes later.

Heatley got in one-on-one with Byrne on two occasions in the space of a couple of minutes late in the first half. Lecky and Kennedy combined well on the left in the 34th minute, with the former slipping Heatley in. The forward prodded a first-time shot at goal, but the goalkeeper was able to make the save.

Moments later, Byrne made an even better stop when David Toure missed the ball with an attempted clearance to allowHeatley a clear run at goal. The keeper was off his line quickly to close Heatley down and smother his shot.

Four minutes after the restart, Kennedy held off Wallace before striking a wicked shot from distance with his left foot which went wide of Byrne’s left-hand post.

The Glenavon goalkeeper was called into action again a couple of minutes later when Lecky sent over a dangerous low cross from the right. Byrne did well to hold on to the ball.

However, Byrne was powerless to prevent the Crues from doubling their lead in the 54th minute. Kennedy slipped a pass out to Clarke on the right before making his way into the penalty area. Clarke created space for himself then curled over a brilliant inswinging cross with his left foot, picking out Kennedy near the six-yard box. The midfielder glanced his header inside the near post to make it 2-0, notching his 10thgoal of the season in the process.

Jarlath O’Rourke got in on the left side of the box when Heatley played him through on the hour mark. The full-back struck a low shot with his left foot, but Byrne made another good stop, this time with his foot.

From the subsequent corner, Clarke found Philip Lowry. The Crues captain’s header was destined for the net, only for Malone to head it off the line. Daniel Larmour drove the ball back in from the right and it fell for Lecky, but he fired high and wide with a shot on the turn from close range.

Goalscorer Kennedy went down in the box under a challenge from Sean Ward on 65 minutes, but referee Evan Boyce was unmoved by the penalty appeals, much to Kennedy’s bemusement.

There was a real lack of cutting edge from Glenavon as they tried to get back into the game, although Quinn did go close with a rasping shot from 25 yards in the 69th minute. Tuffey was at full stretch diving to his right to get fingertips to the ball and push it round the post.

Tuffey had to make another stop two minutes later when substitute Jamie Doran hit the target from distance. This time it was a much easier save for the former Glenavon stopper.

Glenavon had a penalty appeal of their own in the final minute of normal time when Gavin Hodgins ended up on the floor, but referee Boyce told the young substitute to get to his feet.

The Lurgan Blues might have got on the scoresheet in the third minute of time added on when Doran’s side-footed shot took a slight deflection off Larmor and went through the legs of Tuffey, but O’Rourke had dropped back onto the line and was able to clear the ball before Hodgins could get to it. It would have been nothing more than a consolation goal for Glenavon at that stage, anyway.

With Dungannon Swifts securing an impressive 3-1 victory over Cliftonville at Stangmore Park on Saturday, Rodney McAree’s side have moved above Glenavon into ninth place in the league standings, and the two teams will meet at Mourneview Park for an important game on Saturday week (9th March).

However, before that, Glenavon welcome Glentoran to Mourneview for a rearranged fixture against fourth-placed Glentoran on Tuesday 5th March. That match will kick off at 7:45pm.

Crusaders: 33. Jonathan Tuffey (GK), 7. Philip Lowry (C), 8. Ben Kennedy, 9. Adam Lecky, 14. Jordan Forsythe, 15. Jarlath O’Rourke, 19. Jude Winchester, 20. Daniel Larmour,22. Paul Heatley, 25. Ross Clarke, 43. Lewis Barr

Subs: 18. Jordan Owens (for 9. Adam Lecky, 80’), 2. William Joseph Burns (for 19. Jude Winchester, 80’), 6. Robert Weir (for 8. Ben Kennedy, 80’), 27. Stewart Nixon (for 22. Paul Heatley, 84’), 30. Bradley Maguire (for 25. Ross Clarke, 90+2’); not used: 41. Ryan Kerr (GK), 3. Kevin Joshua

Goals: 19. Jude Winchester (10’), 8. Ben Kennedy (54’)

Yellow cards: 7. Philip Lowry (75’)

Glenavon: 13. Mark Byrne (GK), 5. David Toure, 7. Matthew Snoddy, 8. Jack Malone, 10. Peter Campbell, 11. Niall Quinn(C), 21. Aaron Prendergast, 23. Daniel Wallace, 30. Sean Ward, 32. Len O’Sullivan, 39. James Doona

Subs: 9. Gavin Hodgins (for 10. Peter Campbell, 59’), 24. Jamie Doran (for 21. Aaron Prendergast, 59’), 20. Stephen Teggart (for 7. Matthew Snoddy, 67’), 28. Robert Garrett (for 20. Stephen Teggart, 80’); not used: 44. Gareth Deane (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 17. Conor McCloskey

Goals: N/A

Yellow cards: 10. Peter Campbell (27’), 30. Sean Ward (83’)

Referee: Evan Boyce