Glenavon 1-2 Carrick Rangers

Sports Direct Premiership

Mourneview Park

Saturday 27th April 2024

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon brought the curtain down on their 2023/24 Sports Direct Premiership campaign with a 2-1 defeat to a Carrick Rangers side who secured a European play-off spot at Mourneview Park on Saturday evening.

Sean Ward, playing the 779th and final match of his illustrious Irish League career, was presented with a commemorative shirt to mark the occasion prior to kick-off by Manager Stephen McDonnell and Chairman Adrian Teer.

Adrian himself watched his last game as Glenavon Chairman, and Vice-Chairman Frazer Follis presented Adrian with a commemorative shirt of his own before the match got underway, acknowledging his remarkable 40 years of service to the Lurgan Blues.

The visitors went in front in the 21st minute when captain David Cushley scored from the penalty spot after Conor Kerr had clumsily bundled over James Teelan.

Carrick doubled their lead nine minutes later through a trademark goal from veteran striker Curtis Allen.

Glenavon got back into the game five minutes before the break when Rangers’ Ben Tilney put the ball into his own net following a Niall Quinn free kick from the left flank.

The hosts rarely looked like equalising in a second half that was largely uneventful until an unsavoury incident involving Carrick’s Teelan and Glenavon’s Robert Garrett resulted in both players being shown straight red cards by referee Ian McNabb in stoppage time.

Rangers came into the game knowing that a point would be enough to secure them seventh place and a berth in the European play-offs, while the result was immaterial for a Glenavon side already confirmed as 10th-placed finishers.

It was somewhat ironic then that it was the Lurgan Blues who started the better of the two teams, enjoying good spells of early possession. Having said that, the best opportunity Glenavon could create in that opening portion of the game was only a half chance which fell the way of Jamie Doran with 15 minutes on the clock. Connor McCloskey played a ball through for Quinn, and it looked like the Glenavon midfielder was going to get a shot in from 20 yards, only for Gers defender Albert Watson to make a timely tackle. The ball broke for Doran just outside the ‘D’ and the young forward struck a low shot with his right foot which went narrowly wide of the goalkeeper’s right-hand post.

Just five minutes later, Carrick were awarded a penalty kick. Nedas Maciulaitis played a looping ball into the box and Teelan managed to get in behind the Glenavon defence. The young attacker was close to the byline when he reached the ball, and not in a threatening position, when Kerr barged into the back of him. With Teelan sprawled on the deck, referee McNabb had no doubts about pointing to the spot. Skipper Cushley stepped up to take the spot kick. Glenavon goalkeeper Mark Byrne must have anticipated that Cushley would go down the middle, because he stood still in the centre of his goal and could only watch as Cushley thumped the ball high into the left corner of the net to open the scoring.

Stuart King’s side doubled their lead on the half-hour mark. Again, it was a speculative ball into the Glenavon box which caused problems for the Lurgan Blues’ backline. This time, Mark Haughey jumped to win a header against Danny Gibson. Haughey could only manage to knock the ball down towards the penalty spot, though. Kerr looked favourite to get to the ball first, but the predatory Allen pounced and steered a first-time left-foot shot beyond the dive of Byrne and into the far corner.

Allen nearly got in again five minutes after his goal. Ward, skippering Glenavon in his last ever appearance, was dispossessed close to his own penalty area. It may well have been a foul on Ward, but referee McNabb decided against awarding a free kick, and the ball broke to Allen. David Toure did well to get back and make the tackle before Allen could get a shot away.

A similar scenario played out at the other end of the pitch just moments later. Ward cleverly clipped a pass into the box to find Stephen Teggart. It looked like Teggart was going to wriggle clear of Cushley, but the Carrick skipper managed to get a toe to the ball and poke it behind for a corner just as Teggart was preparing to pull the trigger.

Glenavon did manage to get on the scoresheet in the 40th minute. Quinn whipped in a free kick from the left flank. It looked like Teggart was going to get on the end of it, and he may well have made faint contact with the ball, but the final touch appeared to come off the unfortunate Tilney, who diverted it into his own net.

Buoyed by their goal, Glenavon threatened on a couple of occasions to grab an equaliser before the half-time whistle sounded, both times through McCloskey. First of all, Quinn crossed to the back post to pick out the attacker in the 43rd minute, but his subsequent side-foot shot was blocked by a Rangers defender. Then, a minute later, McCloskey hit the target with a volley, but the effort went straight at goalkeeper Ross Glendinning.

Toure struck a shot from 20 yards out five minutes after the restart which took a slight deflection but still ended up in the arms of Glendinning.

Glenavon goalkeeper Byrne got an attempted clearance wrong when he struck the back of teammate Robert Garrett in the 54th minute. The ball fell for Maciulaitis, and with Byrne off his line, the Carrick forward struck a first-time shot from distance to try and catch out the Glenavon keeper, but it sailed well wide of the target.

Maciulaitis was involved again four minutes later when Gibson played a neat one-two with him to break into the box. The former Glenavon striker drew Byrne off his line and attempted to slip the ball to Allen, who was waiting on the six-yard line. Luckily for Glenavon, Danny Wallace was on hand to make the clearance.

At the other end of the field, it was Wallace who saw his shot from distance take a deflection and travel straight into the arms of Glendinning with 84 minutes on the clock as Glenavon searched in vain for an equaliser.

The closest the Lurgan Blues did come to finding a second goal was through Kerr early in injury time. It was Wallace who stood a cross up from close to the byline and found Kerr inside the six-yard box. The defender hit the target with his header, but Glendinning was able to save by tipping the ball over the bar.

Both teams finished the game a man down after Teelan and Garrett were given their marching orders by McNabb. Down the Carrick left, Teelan lunged in on Garrett from behind, and the Glenavon midfielder reacted angrily by lashing out. Teelan was shown a straight red for the initial tackle, whilst Garrett got the same for his reaction.

So, Carrick secured seventh place and a European play-off spot off the back of an impressive sequence of four straight wins at the end of their campaign, whilst Glenavon’s season came to a close with a disappointing run of four consecutive defeats.

Supporters are reminded that there will be an Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders in the Bedeck Suite at Mourneview Park this Tuesday (30th April) at 7:30pm, during which the proposal for the restructuring of the Glenavon Board of Directors will be outlined. All shareholders and 2023/24 season ticket holders may attend the meeting.

MATCH SPONSOR – Instant Print and The Patience Rewarded Syndicate

BALL SPONSOR – Ken Cardwell

MAN OF THE MATCH SPONSOR – Spirit of 2014 Glenavon Supporters Club

Glenavon: 13. Mark Byrne (GK), 2. Conor Kerr, 5. David Toure, 6. Mark Haughey, 11. Niall Quinn, 17. Conor McCloskey, 20. Stephen Teggart, 23. Daniel Wallace, 24. Jamie Doran, 28. Robert Garrett, 30. Sean Ward (C)

Subs: 39. James Doona (for 20. Stephen Teggart, 46’), 7. Matthew Snoddy (for 5. David Toure, 64’), 10. Peter Campbell (for 17. Conor McCloskey, 64’), 9. Gavin Hodgins (for 11. Niall Quinn, 75’) 36. Troy Savage (for 30. Sean Ward, 87’); not used: 41. Joshua Gracey (GK), 49. Daniel Shiel

Goals: Own goal (39. Ben Tilney, 40’)

Yellow cards: 23. Danny Wallace (53’), 30. Sean Ward (86’)

Red cards: 28. Robert Garrett (90+2’)

Carrick Rangers: 1. Ross Glendinning (GK), 5. Albert Watson, 7. David Cushley (C), 10. Curtis Allen, 11. Nedas Maciulaitis, 12. Lewis MacKinnon, 19. Joe Crowe, 20. Kyle Cherry, 24. Daniel Gibson, 30. James Teelan, 39. Ben Tilney

Subs: 4. Mark Surgenor (for 7. David Cushley, 68’), 9. Emmett McGuckin (for 24. Daniel Gibson, 80’), 22. Jaydyn Withers (for 10. Curtis Allen, 90+3’), 26. Pearse O’Prey (for 11. Nedas Maciulaitis, 90+3’), 18. Scott Graham (for 20. Kyle Cherry, 90+3’); not used: 25. Ben McCauley (GK), 15. Benjamin Buchanan-Rolleston

Goals: 7. David Cushley (penalty, 21’), 10. Curtis Allen (30’)

Yellow cards: 9. Emmett McGuckin (86’)

Red cards: 30. James Teelan (90+2’)

Referee: Ian McNabb