An impressive performance helped Glenavon secure their first Premiership victory over Ballinamallard on Tuesday evening.
The Blues were beaten three times by the Mallards last season but this time they came away deserved victors thanks to a stunning volley from David Rainey and a late goal by substitute Kyle Neill.
It turned out to be a shining display right across the smooth surface as every one of the Glenavon players pulled their weight, even if it didn’t look like it would be so early on.
The home side certainly started the brighter but former Portadown forward Richard Lecky could only flick troublesome winger Jason McCartney’s cross over the bar. Ryan Campbell and Mark Stafford also had early efforts at goal but neither could trouble Andy Coleman, Campbell’s drive flying past the post and Stafford’s glancing header also falling just wide.
The typically tireless Guy Bates then fired in a warning shot – a free-kick that bounced past the post – Glenavon were awakening.
They should really have announced their arrival on 15 minutes but, after Bates himself was brought down by Leon Carters, Mark Patton couldn’t convert the penalty.
Patton has so far looked a convincing summer signing but his spot-kick wasn’t quite so impressive, forcing far too simple a save from Feargal Murphy, who reacted quickly to save Patton’s rebound.
The Blues, however, continued in the ascendancy and how there wasn’t a goal before the break, nobody was quite sure. First Andy McGrory was denied from close range before David Rainey flicked a header narrowly wide and then forced a smart save from Murphy. Patton again tried his hand but volleyed wide and at the other end, Ryan Campbell also threatened to break the deadlock, his cross-cum-shot flashing off the crossbar.
It was a frantic hour opening period with, somehow, not a goal to show at either end. It could easily have been 2-2 but Glenavon were increasing in their threat.
They had the lion’s share of the play in the second half too but this time it showed on the scoresheet.
Andy Crawford did fire in an early effort for Ballinamallard after he went past the otherwise impeccable Gareth McKeown but after that, it was one-way traffic.
And on the hour-mark, it was 1-0 with as sweet a technique as you’re likely to see. Andy Kilmartin’s cross was headed out by Gary Phair but when it bounced into the path of David Rainey, he did superbly to keep his shot down and rifle a perfect half-volley into the bottom corner.
Rainey had another effort soon after but couldn’t repeat his exploits, curling into the keeper’s arms. After that, Ballinamallard did briefly threaten to steal a draw but Dwayne McManus’ effort was blocked by his own player in what was their best chance.
And as the game drew to a close, Glenavon made it comfortable as Kyle Neill instantly made his presence felt. The left-back came on for Mark Patton and barely had to break his stride as he ran straight onto the pitch, up toward goal and headed in Guy Bates’ cross.
Not a bad introduction from the bench and it was an altogether impressive Glenavon performance against a team that had, before this game, conceded just one league goal.
At the other end, at last a clean sheet as the watertight defence rarely looked like leaking. Many positives to take as the Blues move up to eight points from five games and into fourth place in the table.
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