Glenavon: Aaron Harmon and Josh Daniels seal win as leaders Linfield lose out

Aaron Harmon (left) celebrates breaking the deadlock in Glenavon's defeat of Linfield. Pic by Pacemaker.
Aaron Harmon (left) celebrates breaking the deadlock in Glenavon's defeat of Linfield. Pic by Pacemaker.

Jonny Tuffey proved inspired between the posts as the foundation to a thrilling 2-0 victory for Glenavon that inflicted a first Danske Bank Premiership defeat on Linfield since December 1.

Second-half strikes by Aaron Harmon and Josh Daniels moved the Lurgan Blues to within three points of third place - with Linfield still sitting pretty by nine but with main title rivals Ballymena United looking to maximise two games in hand.

An audacious angled drive from wide on the right by Jordan Stewart bounced off the chest of Tuffey for the game’s first significant sight of goal.

Tuffey was then on hand to collect Daniel Kearns’ tame curling effort off the subsequent corner-kick.

However, Daniels offered a livewire presence during Glenavon’s promising response - firing wide after collecting to cap a surging forward run from defence by Caolan Marron before, soon after, a low drive was deflected just past the upright.

Tuffey was placed under added pressure due to the strong wind and Linfield’s series of set-piece plays but the experienced goalkeeper proved admirably assured in his handling.

A moment of invention by Conor McCloskey called Gareth Deane into action for the first time, with the Linfield goalkeeper in the right place to gather the first-time volley off Harmon’s headed knockdown.

Tuffey, very much at the heart of the first-half talking points , closed it off with two smart saves.

The first when dropping low to push away Kyle McClean’s shot off Kearns’ sliderule pass.

He was then sharp with the final kick before the break by going high to claw out Chris Casement’s curling free-kick.

Glenavon grabbed the initiative within the first two minutes of the second half when Harmon took full advantage of time and space to fire home with a drilled long-range left-foot drive.

A flying Deane managed to get a glove on the shot but could not stop it from nestling inside his right-hand upright.

A counter-attack by the Lurgan Blues suggested an opening for number two but Andy Hall’s low cross was cut out by Casement.

However, the next significant moment arrived in Linfield’s favour as Stewart’s low drive was blocked by Tuffey.

Free-kicks apiece led to saves at either end.

The first from Deane to deny Hall’s fizzled attempt as the Linfield goalkeeper managed to parry the shot.

Tuffey then continued to maintain his first-half momentum into the second period by leaving Niall Quinn frustrated.

Tuffey’s night of memorable moments extended to include a save off Casement’s half-volley hit.

The Glenavon goalkeeper had the post to thank when Andy Waterworth’s shot on the turn bounced off the outside edge.

Tuffey was back in the spotlight after a double substitution by Linfield introduced Kirk Millar and Marek Cervenka to increase the attacking edge and the latter had a clear path to goal but an outstretched leg helped to protect the advantage.

Jimmy Callacher engineered space on two occasions inside the area over the second half to meet corner-kicks but both cleared the crossbar.

Daniels, having looked so bright across the initial exchanges, helped Glenavon cement control in the latter moments.

The winger, on 87 minutes, popped up in a central position to punish a lapse by the Linfield defence and displayed the composure to guide the ball beyond the advancing Deane.

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Marron, Daniels, Marshall, Mitchell, Hall, Harmon, McCloskey (Hamilton, 81), Singleton, Wearen (Norton, 90), Sharkey (Larmour, 65).

Subs (not used): Murray, Hunter, Jenkins, Jameson.

LINFIELD: Deane, Robinson, Callagher, Waterworth, Stewart (Cervenka, 70), Kearns (Millar, 70), McClean (Forde, 82), Mulgrew, McGivern, Quinn, Casement.

Subs (not used): C.Mitchell, Stafford, Clarke, A.Mitchell.

Referee: Steven Gregg.