IT was a familiar story for Glenavon on Saturday as they ended a game with ten men and zero points for the second time in a week.
The Blues were well beaten 3-0 by Linfield as Ciaran Martyn was given a red card for a second bookable offence right on the hour mark.
Although Martyn’s second yellow couldn’t be debated, Glenavon again had gripes with the officials’ performance as the midfielder’s first booking was more contentious.
The sending off, however, is unlikely to have affected the overall result. By that stage Linfield were already two goals ahead with Glenavon not looking like pegging them back.
In truth, the home side never really got started and merely picked up their abject performance where they left off in the second half on Boxing Day. Too many players were off the boil and, when up against Linfield, that’s only going to bring one outcome.
In saying that, the champions needed a penalty kick to take the first half lead. Despite Glenavon’s poor display, Linfield struggled to create many opportunities themselves.
Guy Bates and Matthew Tipton couldn’t find the target at either end in the opening three minutes and after that, chances were few and far between at either end. Ciaran Martyn fired wide after going past Billy-Joe Burns and Mark McAllister saw his header from Jonny Black’s corner superbly saved by the in-form Andy Coleman.
The keeper’s good work was undone after half an hour when out-of-sorts Kris Lindsay needlessly brought down Matthew Tipton.
The striker only had a remote chance of scoring from a tight angle but was up-ended, giving Brian McCaul the chance to net against his former side.
The Linfield striker duly sent Coleman the wrong way to find the Mourneview Park net, something he had become used to doing during his loan spell at Glenavon last season.
Ciaran Martyn had a chance to equalize before the break when Marc Brown bundled his way through the defence and teed up the midfielder. However, he could only direct his shot straight at Alan Blayney. Had he scored that effort, things could have been oh so different for the home side.
However, five minutes into the second half, their fate was all but sealed as Matthew Tipton finally got off the mark for Linfield. A long ball forward was missed by Kris Lindsay and Tipton didn’t need a second invitation. He showed great composure to jink past Mark Haughey and slot home his first goal since leaving Portadown in the summer.
As if it wasn’t a hard enough task for Glenavon, Martyn was then given his marching orders after a second yellow.
Ironically, Glenavon did improve after that with youngster Jude Ballard coming on and helping to give his side some attacking purpose. He had a pop at goal himself minutes after coming on but, after getting clear of Michael Carvill could only fire over from long range.
The visitors had certainly taken their foot off the gas, knowing the game was won but eventually bagged a third in the closing minutes. After Michael Carvill had spurned a great chance with Brian McCaul, Daryl Fordyce and Ross Clarke all begging for a square ball, Clarke himself bagged a smashing goal.
The substitute seized on a lay-off from the previously selfish Carville and rifled an effort into the top corner.
That capped off a disappointing Christmas for Gary Hamilton’s side and left them desperate to get back to winning ways against Donegal Celtic on New Year’s Day.
GLENAVON: Coleman, Turkington (Mitchell 55), Haughey, Lindsay (c), McCallion, Brown (McDaid 77), Kilmartin, Martyn, McGrory (Ballard 67), Doherty, Bates.
Unused Subs: McCashin, Corrigan.
LINFIELD: Blayney, Gault (c), Murphy, Carville, Burns, Tipton (Browne 88), Mulgrew (Clarke 74), Watson, McCaul, McAllister (Fordyce 74), Black.
Unused Subs: Garrett, Ervine.
Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast).