GLENAVON were dumped out of the Irish Cup on Saturday afternoon, outperformed and overpowered by a strong Crusaders side in a 4-0 defeat at Mourneview Park.
The Blues never looked like matching their Belfast opponents, who ran out easy winners, largely thanks to the fantastic Chris Morrow who bagged a brace and also set up late goals for David Rainey and Jordan Owens.
Peter McCann made his long-awaited return from injury for Glenavon, coming in at right-back for Brendan Shannon whilst Kyle Cherry was replaced by Conor Hagan in central midfield.
However, the Blues could have gone behind in the very first minute if David Rainey hadn’t scuffed his close range effort. Davy O’Hare dropped the early corner-kick and the ball fell to Rainey’s foot but he couldn’t force it over the line from close range.
Andrew Mitchell was then almost through on goal but referee Raymond Crangle blew for a foul by Paul Leeman on the edge of the area. From the resulting set-piece, Kyle Neill’s shot rebounded to Ciaran Doherty but he could only blast over the bar.
Mitchell then did get his chance at goal but he couldn’t poke Convery’s header past Sean O’Neill.
The first period went on to be a scrappy affair, although the away side possessed an extra class and their pressure finally paid off on 29 minutes when they hit Glenavon with a counter-attack as Morrow smashed a great effort across Davy O’Hare and in at the far post.
John Convery had the chance to equalise soon after but he headed Kyle Neill’s right-wing free-kick over the bar before Timmy Adamson’s effort flew narrowly wide of goal at the other end.
Glenavon certainly had been second best, with the ball just not quite falling for Crusaders in the penalty area. If it had, the score could have been beyond the Blues already.
They didn’t improve after the break either, although Tony Grant almost conjured what would have been a magic equaliser on 51 minutes. The forward found space on the left side of the box and chipped the ball over goalkeeper O’Neill but it dipped just to late and fell onto the roof of the net rather than into the top corner at the back post.
Kyle Neill’s cross then could have fallen in on another day after it was missed by everyone in the box but instead it bounced narrowly wide of the far post.
Brendan Shannon and Mark Miskimmin then came on to try and haul their side back into the game but soon after it was all but over as Morrow bulleted a header in from David Magowan’s free-kick.
Glenavon introduced Gerard Rooney and changed to a 4-3-3 formation as they tried to force their way back into the game but Crusaders still looked more likely to score, capable of breaking at any time.
Stuart Dallas should have made it 3-0 on 78 minutes but he couldn’t convert having made space after a superb one-two with David Rainey on the edge of the area.
Rainey got on the scoresheet himself on 84 minutes when he converted Morrow’s left wing cross and after the striker had also hit the post with a deflected effort, substitute Jordan Owens put the icing on the cake.
That man Morrow again provided the vital pass, crossing from the right for the powerful Owens to slam a header home and compound what was a miserable day for the Lurgan Blues.
GLENAVON: O’Hare, McCann (Rooney 75), Magee, Convery, Turkington, Hagan, McCaul, Doherty (Shannon 63), Neill, Mitchell (Miskimmin 63), Grant.
Unused Subs: Coleman, Rooney.
CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Magowan, Coates, Leeman, McBride, McMaster (Snoddy 59), Watson (Caddell 35), Morrow, Dallas, Adamson (Owens 71), Rainey.
Unused Subs: R McCann, Gibson.
Referee: Raymond Crangle.