Glenavon too hot to handle

GLENAVON netted seven league goals in one game for the first time in exactly 17 years as they swept aside Ballymena United at Mourneview Park last Saturday.

The last time they managed it was that famous ‘Demolition Derby’ win over Portadown, which occurred 17 years ago to the day on 23rd February 1996.

This time it was a vital victory over Ballymena United, as dominant a performance as you’re ever likely to see. Glenavon’s football was fast and flowing and they looked like they’d score with almost every attack.

Ballymena, right from the off, couldn’t contain Gary Hamilton’s men who very quickly showed that they had something to prove, having lost seven of their previous eight league matches.

Club captain Brendan Shannon made his first start in almost five months, returning from a medial ligament injury, and it took him just five minutes to make a telling difference.

Guy Bates sent him clear and with Ballymena’s defence, typically, nowhere to be seen, he strode toward goal and smashed a finish into the top corner.

It was only his second goal for the club. Normally playing at right-back, Shannon this time lined up on the wing and more than showed his worth going forward over the course of the afternoon.

Bates was again the provider for the second goal when he seized on an error by Chris Rodgers to set up Ciaran Martyn, who smashed a superb low finish into the bottom corner for his sixth goal of the season.

It was 3-0 before the break, Mark Farren the scorer. Shannon chested the ball down on the halfway line and superbly played in the former Derry City striker, whose clinical finish past the out-rushing Dwayne Nelson showed his goal-scoring instinct.

Ballymena, who had all too easily been torn apart time and time again, briefly threatened to give themselves a glimmer of hope and struck the frame of the goal either side of half-time.

First it was Allan Jenkins, whose header from Tony Kane’s cross crashed off the crossbar in first half stoppage time. Then it was substitute Gary Liggett who almost bagged a goal against his former side. The sprightly David Cushley had first tested Davey O’Hare and Liggett was first to the rebound but could only curl his effort off the upright.

That was to be all Ballymena could do to trouble O’Hare, although Liggett did manage to get on the scoresheet three minutes later. Kyle Neill whipped in a dangerous free-kick and Liggett inadvertently sliced the ball beyond his own keeper to extend Glenavon’s lead.

The pick of the goals was the Blues’ fifth. Another Kyle Neill free-kick was partly cleared but Gary Hamilton’s bicycle kick swung it back into the danger area and it was met with another overhead kick from Marc Brown to smash it into the net.

Neill headed home Gary Hamilton’s free-kick from the left wing on 66 minutes but Glenavon weren’t finished there either as Guy Bates rounded off the scoring with a well deserved goal on 80 minutes. Shannon was again the provider as he laid the ball back to Bates who curled an outstanding finish over Nelson and into the top corner of the net.

It was a fantastic goal that capped off a truly marvellous Glenavon performance. Without doubt, it was one of their most notable performances in many a year.

Now it presents the challenge of how the Blues can use days like that as a springboard towards a brighter future.

GLENAVON: O’Hare, McCallion, Lindsay, Haughey, Neill (Turkington 68), Shannon, Kilmartin (Hagan 75), Martyn, Brown, Farren (Hamilton HT), Bates.

Unused Subs: McGrory, McDaid.

BALLYMENA UTD: Nelson, Kane, Ruddy, McCullagh, Rodgers, Taggart (Liggett 37), Jenkins, Davidson, Thompson (Surgenor 73), Dolan, Cushley (Cushley 62).

Unused Subs: Stewart, Vauls.