It’s advantage Glenavon in the race for Europe as the Lurgan Blues beat Linfield for the third time this season.
Goals in each half from Kevin Braniff and Ciaran Martyn gave Gary Hamilton’s side a 2-0 win at Ballymena Showgrounds, a home match for Linfield as their ground is out of bounds because of structural damage to the West Stand.
There was a chance for Glenavon two minutes in as Kevin Braniff held the ball up then picked out Eoin Bradley with a lovely ball, he rolled it back across goal but Braniff just failed to get on the end of it.
Braniff was looking sharp at this early stage and he carved out another chance with a delightful ball into the path of Bradley but when he got the shot in Tuffey made a fine save.
Linfield slowly began to press and after Andy Waterworth had a shot blocked by Simon Kelly from a corner Burns drilled in a shot but McGrath was in the right spot to make a comfortable save.
With 24 minutes gone Glenavon had a shout for a penalty after Martyn put Bradley in a chase for the ball but he was knocked over before getting in his shot. Referee Tim Marshall ignored his appeal for a spot kick.
A long ball into the Glenavon defence was chased for and won by Ivan Spoule who pulled it back for Glenn Belezika but he sliced his shot wide.
At the other end Patton was pulled down some 30 yards out giving Braniff a chance to go for goal and his effort was on target but Tuffey pushed it away and the ball was cleared.
Glenavon’s dogged determination paid off on 39 minutes as Bradley, won the ball, lost the ball and won it back to scoop a pass to Braniff, his shot took a deflection and despite Tuffey getting his hand to it the linesman flagged that the ball had crossed the line.
Within a minute Linfield had a chance to pull level as they won a free kick on the edge of the box after Lindsay sent Waterworth crashing to the deck. Lindsay picked up a yellow for the challenge and Lowry’s free kick went straight into the wall.
Glenavon made a change for the start of the second half with David Elebert replacing Lindsay. Linfield began well but it was Glenavon with the first chance as Braniff’s volley from the box was pushed out by Tuffey. The Lurgan Blues kept up the pressure with a corner of corners which Linfield managed to deal with.
Braniff was out of luck on two occasion in a bid to extend Glenavon’s lead, first he drilled a low shot just wide and on 65 minutes Tuffey produced a stunning save to push away a well struck shot from the Glenavon striker.
The Belfast Blues were pumping the ball forward but their was no way through the Glenavon defence and on 77 minutes it was 2-0 thanks to a brilliant delivery into the box and Ciaran Martyn nipped in to head past Tuffey. A great goal and the perfect way to knock the heart out of Linfield.
With Cliftonville losing to Crusaders it means Glenavon move into third spot.
Glenavon: McGrath, Kelly, Lindsay, Kilmartin, Bradley, Patton, McGrory, Marshall, Branifff, Martyn, Singleton.
Subs: Neill, Hamilton, Caldwell, O’Brien, Elebert.