No New Year cheer for Glenavon

A ONE-dimensional performance from Glenavon saw them open the New Year with a defeat at Donegal Celtic.

The Blues had a depleted squad with Ciaran Martyn, Brendan Shannon, Marc Brown, Andrew Mitchell and Kyle Neill all out. This lack of strength certainly showed as the side put in an uninspiring display, resorting to long balls tactics right from the off in a game that certainly won’t live long in the memory.

Donegal Celtic were at the foot of the table before the game began and it seemed Glenavon sunk to their level immediately, the match turning into a scrap with little football played by either side.

Chances were few and far between at either end as both teams struggled to find the class required the beat the opposing defence. DC arguably had the better of the first half and at least created a few scoring opportunities.

Kevin Keegan caused problems on the right side and his deliveries set up Paul McVeigh and Mark Miskimmin in quick succession but McVeigh couldn’t beat Andy Coleman while Miskimmin’s header flew agonizingly wide of goal.

The former Glenavon forward then swung in a free-kick that found skipper Paul Bradley but his close range header was stopped by Andy Coleman.

If Celtic’s main threat was from headers, Glenavon’s was certainly from set-pieces.

Guy Bates’ free kick was first to trouble goalkeeper John Connolly as his curling effort had to be palmed over. Then Mark Turkington’s corner looked to be curling toward the net but Connolly was alert to punch it away.

Gary Hamilton’s corner then provided their first chance inside the box as it fell to Andy McGrory at the back post. However, it skipped quickly up off the winger and into the grateful arms of Connolly.

It’s fair to say the first half was far from a classic and the second was even less exciting.

Glenavon put on some pressure after the break but failed to capitalize on it and the home side only needed one mistake to take advantage of.

Conor Downey’s long ball into the box went over the heads of the Glenavon defence and found the unmarked Paul McVeigh who struck first time to poke it past Andy Coleman and bag what had seemed an unlikely goal.

The visitors did set about getting the equaliser but rarely looked like doing so. Conor Hagan came on and within minutes delivered the ball into the box but Gary Hamilton’s header failed to really stretch the comfortable Connolly.

It was the story of the day for the keeper, who had little to do. Even when he was forced into a save, it was little more than a routine stop. Niall Henderson got a toe on Sean McCashin’s cross with less than ten minutes remaining but it lacked any power and was no match for Connolly.

In the closing minutes, it was clear that Glenavon weren’t going to come back. DC should even have punished them further as a hat-trick of golden opportunities for McVeigh went begging before Mark Miskimmin was put through and he also failed to beat the alert Andy Coleman.

The goalkeeper’s exploits, however, were not matched by most of his outfield players and that meant, at a cold Donegal Celtic Park, it was a New Year’s Day to be endured rather than enjoyed for the traveling fans.

DONEGAL CELTIC: Connolly, Bradley, Burns, McAreavey (Devine 73), McVeigh, Gargan, McShane, Keegan, Downey, Deans, Miskimmin.

Unused Subs: McNamee, McAllister, Hughes, Todd.

GLENAVON: Coleman, Turkington (Henderson 69), Haughey, Lindsay, McCallion (Bennett 76), Doherty (McCashin 16), Kilmartin, Henderson, Hamilton, Bates, McGrory.

Unused Subs: Ballard, McDaid.