Finally the Blues get off the mark

FINALLY.

At the eighth time of asking, Glenavon have picked up their first win of the Carling Premiership season, shutting out Coleraine for a deserved 1-0 victory.

Andy Graham’s eighth minute strike was enough to see out the win with the Blues impressing after Ryan Harpur had been shown a very harsh second yellow card just before the break.

Even with a man advantage, the visitors rarely looked like truly threatening the impressive Davy O’Hare and so Glenavon gained their first three points of the campaign.

The Blues again lined up with a 4-3-3 formation as Ciaran Doherty picked up his first league start, coming in for the injured Peter McCann.

Coleraine had the first chance of the game but O’Hare was on hand to save Curtis Allen’s header and it was Glenavon who took the lead soon after.

Niall Henderson won the ball with a crunching tackle in midfield before Doherty flicked the ball on to Harpur and it was spread out wide to Brendan Shannon. The right-back played a neat ball through to Graham who made no mistake, firing past goalkeeper Michael Doherty, who couldn’t get a strong enough touch to keep the effort out.

Diarmuid O’Carroll then teed up Ciaran Doherty soon after but the youngster sliced his low shot wide of the far post.

Jonny Black, who recently scored from his own half against Portadown, then thundered a right-wing free-kick at goal and forced a good save from O’Hare, who had to react quickly to tip it over.

Just after the half-hour mark, Mark Haughey picked up a horror injury in a goalmouth scramble as Davey O’Hare blocked Shane Jennings’ effort before Jonny Magee stopped another shot and the ball was hacked away.

As the scene cleared, it was immediately evident that Haughey’s injury was a bad one and he was stretchered off to be replaced at centre-back by Kyle Neill.

Just before the break, Graham almost made it 2-0 but his half-volley from O’Hare’s long kick flew narrowly wide of the far post.

However, the half wasn’t to end well for the home side as Ryan Harpur was dismissed for a second yellow card as he pulled back his marker on the half-way line.

It was certainly a bonus for Coleraine heading into the second half and they began brightly with Tommons firing in a 20-yard shot but forcing only a routine save from his former team-mate O’Hare.

Jonny Black’s long-throw then fell to Jennings on the six-yard line but his narrow-angled effort was brilliantly saved by the in-form O’Hare.

Jennings then turned provider as Coleraine piled on the pressure to ten-man Glenavon. His long ball looked to have played in Tommons but the very impressive stand-in centre-back Kyle Neill burst back to put in a goal-saving challenge and clear the danger.

Glenavon were looking stout in defence but were finding it difficult to force their own attacks. In a brief foray forward, O’Carroll tried a spectacular overhead kick but it fell wide of goal from 15 yards out.

Jonny Black then tried another thundering long-range effort but O’Hare managed to tip it round the post. From the resulting corner, Coleraine had arguably their best chance of the match as Leon Knight, who had a quiet game, saw his close-range header cleared off the line by Ciaran Doherty.

Stephen Lowry then played in Knight, who again looked certain to score but Mark Turkington got back to put in a goal-saving tackle before the striker could get his shot away.

That tackle deep into injury time was enough to see the Blues over the line and get that much needed first victory.

With Packie McAllister’s introduction and following upturn in performances, the Blues’ will be hoping that these three points are the first of many to kick-start their season.

GLENAVON: O’Hare, Shannon, Haughey (Neill 35), Henderson, Harpur, O’Carroll, Miskimmin (Hagan 64), Jonny Magee, Doherty, Turkington, Graham (Kelbie 64).

Unused Subs: Coleman, Magee.

COLERAINE: Doherty, McNulty, Ogilby, Lowry, Allen (Scullion 70), Knight, Canning (Clarke 70), McCauley, Jennings, Tommons (McIlmoyle 56), Black.

Unused Subs: Cullen, Beverland.