Glenavon 1 Glentoran 0
THREE World Cups, five Ryder Cups, three general elections and a 56p rise in the price of petrol per litre.
That’s what has happened since the last time Glenavon beat Glentoran in the league over 11 years ago in August 2000.
However, all of that changed on Saturday afternoon when Gary Hamilton’s men finally overcame the Glens, 30 league games after their last win over the Belfast side.
A Kyle Neill flicked header was enough to see them to victory this time as Glenavon kept just their third clean sheet in the Carling Premiership this season, although they had to rely on referee Raymond Crangle to rule out Colin Nixon’s 63rd minute header for a foul on goalkeeper Andy Coleman.
It was a deserved victory as Hamilton’s men showed all the fight, desire and ability required for their battle to avoid the drop. The boss was partnered up front by his fellow former Glentoran striker Matty Burrows and the pair wreaked havoc on their former side, combining well as Glenavon posed the major attacking threat throughout the first half.
Burrows had their first chance when he turned on captain Brendan Shannon’s low cross but could only fire his shot high and wide.
He didn’t take long to force a save from Aaron Hogg though and the Glens stopper did well to deny his 16th minute effort after a good Glenavon move saw Hamilton slide in Niall Henderson on the left flank before the midfielder found Burrows with a perfect square ball.
From the resulting corner, Burrows was again in the thick of the action and this time had Hogg beaten but Ciaran Martyn managed to deflect his effort past the post. The Glens then managed to break but Martin Murray could only fire over the bar as he looked to be through on goal.
Glenavon went straight back on the offensive though and this time it was the post that kept out the potent threat of Matty Burrows, who was certainly proving a point against the side that let him go just over a month ago. This time it was Brian McCaul’s cross that found the forward and his acrobatic bicycle kick had Hogg stranded, but came back agonisingly off the near post.
The Glentoran defence weren’t picking up Burrows’ movement and he then forced another save from Hogg on 25 minutes when his volley from Mark Turkington’s cross had to be stopped.
In a rare Glentoran attack, the visitors almost opened the scoring through a Stephen Carson free-kick but the former Northern Ireland international’s curling effort crashed off the apex of the goal-frame.
Just before the break, Jay Magee hobbled off to be replaced by John Convery, the first of three Glenavon players who would be withdrawn through injury during the game.
His absence didn’t hold back the Blues, who took the lead just a minute into the second half. Ciaran Doherty cut back on the right wing and his left-footed cross was flicked tremendously into the top corner by Kyle Neill, who of course is another former Glentoran man.
The goal sparked the visitors into some sort of action though and Stephen Carson cut in from the wing before his shot was deflected over the bar.
Then came Glenavon’s second injury problem of the afternoon as a bloody Mark Turkington was stretchered off due to a gash on the back of his calf.
Glentoran then looked to have muscled their way back into the game as Colin Nixon bundled the ball over the line only to see the effort perhaps harshly ruled out for a foul on goalkeeper Andy Coleman.
Eddie Patterson’s men were pushing, but Glenavon looked equally as dangerous on the break as that man Burrows almost doubled the scoring on 67 minutes. Hamilton’s fantastic lobbed pass found the forward who dashed past Jimmy Callacher but saw his tight-angled shot slide agonisingly past the far post.
Niall Henderson was then taken off with injury to be replaced by Tony Grant. It was Glentoran sub Andy Waterworth that threatened though as his 25-yard drive had to be tipped round the post by a full-stretch Andy Coleman.
Grant then had a chance of his own as another fantastic Hamilton pass set him clear but Aaron Hogg stood tall to make a smart save from the veteran forward.
Brendan Shannon made a vital goal-line clearance from Andy Waterworth’s 88th minute shot as the Glens pushed closer to an equaliser. Leon Knight then flicked the ball through to Waterworth but Andy Coleman was out quickly to smother the shot as Glenavon held on to what was a historic victory and, more importantly, a vital three points.
GLENAVON: Coleman, Shannon, Jay Magee (Convery 45), Jonny Magee, Turkington (Hagan 62), McCaul, Henderson (Grant 69), Doherty, Neill, Burrows, Hamilton.Unused subs: McAllister, Mitchell.
GLENTORAN: Hogg, Nixon, Ward, O’Kane (Hill 80), M Murray, Carson, Callacher, Martyn, Clarke, Boyce (Knight 74), Gibson (Waterworth 64).Unused Subs: McGovern, E Murray.
Referee: Raymond Crangle.