Glenavon sealed a place in the top six with a battling 3-1 win over a stubborn Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park on Saturday.
The first chance of the game fell to Glenavon on three minutes as Kevin Braniff won the ball and did well to work his way into the box, he squared the ball into the path of Ciaran Martyn who clipped the ball wide of the far post.
The game settled down for the next ten minutes but then came a chance at both ends. First Mark Patton whipped over a teasing cross which Declan O’Brien just failed to meet and then a quick counter saw Ballinamallard striker Ryan Campbell nip in behind the Glenavon back line but he scooped his shot straight at keeper Alan Blayney.
Braniff then thought he had opened the scoring when he lobbed the keeper but Mark Stafford got back to clear the ball off the line but it was picked up by Mark Patton who teed it up before cutting a low left foot shot into the net to give the away side the lead on 13 minutes.
Midway through the half Glenavon almost got a second goal as Braniff played the ball forward defender Liam McMenamin stuck out a leg and the ball deflected off him and onto the post.
However, Glenavon did have the ball in the next in the next attack. Braniff again in the thick of the action as his firmly struck shot was palmed out by keeper Murphy and Martyn was quick to pounce to poke the ball home.
With five minutes to go to the break Ballinamallard showed their teeth as James McKenna connected well from outside the box but his shot came back off the underside of the bar. In the scramble to clear referee Ian McNabb awarded the home team a penalty following a foul by Simon Kelly but Jason McCartney smashed the spot kick off the base of the post.
Three minutes into the second half and Glenavon gifted the home side a way back into the game and Alan Blayney will be disappointed at allowing a shot from Liam Martin to slip from his grasp and over the line when a routine save was expected.
That goal gave Ballinamallard a lift and for the next 15 minutes Glenavon could not get out of their half as the home side pressed and won a series of corners. Blayney made up for his earlier lapse when he blocked a drive from United fullback Liam McMenamin on 70 minutes.
The visitors needed a third to take the sting out of United and it came on 80 minutes when referee McNabb pointed to the spot after McMenamin was adjudged to have brought down Martyn inside the box. Braniff sent Murphy the wrong way for his 13th goal of the season.
That was enough to seal the win and a great way to bounce back after the heavy defeat by Crusaders a fortnight ago.
Glenavon: Blayney, Kelly, Lindsay, Kilmartin, Bradley, Patton, McGrory, O’Brien, Martin, Singleton.
Subs: McKeown, Neill, Murphy, Lynch, Elebert.