Fabio hat-trick on Glenavon debut

Fabio O’Brien capped a dream debut with a hat-trick as Glenavon defeated Ballymena United 4-2 at The Showgrounds.

It was a first win in eight league games for Gary Hamilton’s side and they even had the luxury of missing an early penalty.

Rhys Marshall header ends up dropping on top of the bar at Ballymena. Pic by Presseye

Rhys Marshall header ends up dropping on top of the bar at Ballymena. Pic by Presseye

The first effort on goal came from the home side as Gary McCutcheon turned well but his well struck shot was safely gathered by keeper James McGrath.

Glenavon responded and almost took the lead on three minutes when Kyle Neill flicked on a long ball from Caldwell, Ciaran Martyn passed to Eoin Bradley but just as he was about to shoot he stumbled and the ball was cleared. From the corner O’Brien had an effort blocked at the far post before the home team cleared.

Drama came on five minutes as Glenavon won a penalty after Johnny Taylor felled O’Brien on the edge of the box, Bradley stepped up but screwed the spot kick wide of the post.

Bradley soon made amends as he expertly teed up Martyn for the breakthrough on 17 minutes. After shaking off Taylor he picked out Martyn who turned sharply and rattled a right foot shot into the left hand corner of the net. His eight goal of the season.

O’Brien almost got on the end of another superb cross from Neill and from the corner Rhys Marshall’s header bounced on top of the bar.

Shane McCabe played a superb ball in behind for Caldwell but Kane just got back to divert the ball for a corner.

Ballymena pressed hard but the Glenavon back line stood firm. O’Brien had two more chances to score, first glancing a header wide and then showing good control to get away from his marker but his low drive lacked power to beat Addis.

United came close to levelling on 43 minutes, a shot from Tipton beat McGrath but Dillon was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

All the good work by the Lurgan Blues in the first half was undone within seconds of the restart as Gary Thompson crossed from the right, the ball was not cleared and Darren Boyce slide in to make it 1-1.

That goal gave the home side a massive lift and they enjoyed their best spell of the game as they threatened to take the lead.

However, the moment Glenavon fans had been waiting for came on 63 minutes as Declan O’Brien scored on his debut. Martyn nodded the ball on and as the ball dropped Fabio connected and the ball bounced over Addis to put the visitors ahead again.

United piled on the pressure and Glenavon did well to keep them out with Marshall in the right place to block a goalbound shot from Jenkins.

With eight minutes to go Gary Hamilton replaced Bradley but it was his strike partner Fabio who sealed the points as he made it 3-1 with a cool finish after rounding the keeper.

McCutcheon pulled a goal back with a spectacular shot two minutes from the end, but no sooner had the game restarted Fabio bagged his hat-trick. Sub Mark Patton had a shot blocked, he flicked the rebound over Addis and Fabio made sure on the line.

Glenavon: McGrath, Neil, Murphy, Bradley, Dillon, Caldwell, O’Brien, Marshall, McCabe, Martyn, Singleton.

Subs: Lindsay, Kilmartin, Hamilton, Patton, Sykes.