A Guy Bates double led Glenavon through to the quarter-finals of the League Cup on Tuesday evening.
The Blues were forced to come from behind to beat Institute 4-1. A slow start left them trailing after just 12 minutes but Bates’ brace, a spectacular effort from Gary Hamilton and another for Kyle Neill secured a routine victory.
It really didn’t look like it would be that easy for most of the first half. It was hard to tell who was the Premiership side at times, Institute causing most of the problems. They were ahead early on as the impressive Darren McCauley seized on a long ball, tricked his way into the box and shot low past John Connolly.
James Singleton forced a save at the other end before Kyle Neill almost scored a spectacular strike - at the wrong end. He volleyed the ball away from the striker but lobbed John Connolly from 25 yards out and will have been relieved to see the ball fly just over the bar.
It wasn’t a great opening 40 minutes but by half-time, that was just a memory. Gary Hamilton equalised with a dazzling effort from the edge of the area. He struck a swinging half-volley that spun away from the goalkeeper and into the opposite top corner.
Three minutes later Glenavon were ahead. Guy Bates drilled home from close range after Andy McGrory’s long range effort crashed off the crossbar and was headed to the striker by Kyle Neill.
Into the second half and the Blues didn’t look back. Gary Hamilton played a terrific pass to put in Bates but his effort rolled narrowly wide of goal. James Singleton then had a deflected effort well saved before Bates made it 3-1 in some fashion.
Hamilton’s goal in the first half was a real smasher and Bates’ was every bit as good. Eddie McCallion did well to secure possession and feed the striker. He turned toward goal and, 20 yards out, effortlessly lifted the ball over the keeper and into to opposite corner – a delightful lob with Michael Doherty just a couple of yards off his line.
The scoring was complete three minutes from time, in somewhat strange style. James Singleton’s ball forward was chested down by Bates. Kyle Neill, who looked offside, smashed it home before looking the linesman, only to find the flag staying down.
It was a pleasing night and all that was missing was Bates’ hat-trick. He had the chance for it in injury-time too but could only head both Kyle Neill and Gary Hamilton’s corners over the bar.
GLENAVON: Connolly, McCallion, Neill, Marshall, Singleton, Lindsay, Kilmartin (Gardiner 89), Hagan (McIlveen 60), McGrory (Patton 80), Hamilton, Bates.
Unused Subs: Rainey, Martyn.
Institute: Doherty, Devlin, C McLaughlin, Crossan, P McLaughlin (McIntyre 56), Henderson (Riley 73), McCauley, Walsh, Carlin, Hegarty (McCrudden 71), Crown.
Unused Subs: Varma, Mulgahy.