BALLYMENA UNITED 0
GLENAVON finally lifted themselves off the bottom of the Carling Premiership on Saturday, trouncing ten-man Ballymena United 3-0 at Mourneview Park.
After 15 consecutive weeks propping up the table, the Blues now find themselves a point above both Carrick Rangers and Lisburn Distillery.
Ballymena’s Gavin Taggart was given his marching orders with just 22 minutes on the clock and the home side never looked back, opening the scoring from the resulting free-kick and dominating the rest of the game.
Chris Lavery, Jay Magee and Mark Miskimmin were on the scoresheet, with Miskimmin netting what is astonishingly his first league goal at Mourneview park since joining the club a year and a half ago.
Interim boss Pat McAllister made just two changes to the side that had drawn with Carrick Rangers a week earlier, with Jonny Magee and Brendan Shannon returning at the expense of Kyle Neill and Diarmuid O’Carroll. Alan Davidson was shifted up top to partner Miskimmin and the duo linked well throughout the game, with Davidson beginning to show the skill that earned him a move to the club during the summer.
Neither side really threatened until Taggart’s 22nd minute dismissal, although referee Mervyn Smyth had no choice but to issue a red card for a late tackle on Cairan Doherty, after the same player had already picked up a first yellow for an earlier challenge on Cameron Grieve.
The decision no doubt aided the home side, but they still had to find the net. They didn’t have to wait long to do it though, as Chris Lavery’s in-swinging free-kick evaded everyone in a crowded penalty box and bounced up into the top corner.
Glenavon then piled on the pressure but Davidson could only force a routine save from range and Ciaran Doherty’s effort was blocked before it could find its way to the bottom corner, where it looked to be heading.
Davidson was certainly causing problems for the Sky Blues, getting himself into good positions but again he shot straight at Wayne Drummond before his more sternly struck effort cannoned agonisingly off the crossbar.
Half-time didn’t halt Glenavon’s flow as they continued to pour forward towards a toothless Ballymena side. Niall Henderson’s 47th minute corner kick flew right to Conor Hagan at the back post and the midfielder’s well struck effort had to be well stopped by the busy Drummond.
Before the hour-mark, Chris Lavery cut the ball back toward Mark Miskimmin but his effort lacked enough venom to find the net and Conor Hagan’s follow-up was well blocked.
Next it was Lavery’s turn to have an effort with his stunning 25 yard drive dipping just too late. Davidson and Miskimmin then combined well, completing a neat exchange in the box but the former’s 10-yard effort bobbled just past the post.
Was it turning out to be another frustrating day for Glenavon? Home fans could have been forgiven for thinking it was but on 65 minutes, Henderson set Miskimmin free of the defence and the forward kept his cool to slot home and relieve some of the pressure on the club’s ailing strikers.
And both of the forwards were involved in the build-up to the third. Again Miskimmin and Davidson exchanged passes on the edge of the box before Miskimmin was chopped down by Chris Rodgers. A penalty was the inevitable outcome and Jay Magee strode forward to smash home his third goal in as many games, not bad for a centre-half.
Substitute Joe Finlay then saw a tight-angled effort well stopped as Glenavon didn’t let up, gunning for more goals.
And what of Ballymena, I hear you ask. Well Davey O’Hare wasn’t made to work for his wage this week, not even having to make one save in the Glenavon goal. A combination of stern defending from the two Magees and a lack of any form of passing from the visitors meant it was Glenavon’s first clean sheet in 11 league matches, another pleasing statistic to round off a very happy day for the Lurgan Blues.
GLENAVON: O’Hare, Shannon, Jay Magee, Jonny Magee, Grieve, Hagan, Henderson, Doherty, Lavery (D Magee 72), Miskimmin (O’Carroll 82), Davidson (Finlay 68).
Unused Subs: Neill, Graham.
BALLYMENA UNITED: Drummond, Kane, Stewart, G Taggart, Jenkins, A Teggart (Davidson 75), Vauls (Costello 46), Downey (Carson 75), Munster, Rodgers, McCutcheon.
Unused Subs: Surgenor, Woods.