Glenavon: Small margins on way to big win over Newry City

Ben Doherty steers home directly from a corner-kick against Newry City AFC during the Glenavon win. Pic by Pacemaker.
Ben Doherty steers home directly from a corner-kick against Newry City AFC during the Glenavon win. Pic by Pacemaker.

An October fixture - even the last of the weekend programme between sides at the top and bottom of the table - can never offer any final answers.

However, Saturday evening’s derby date at Mourneview Park did reaffirm some early-season patterns as Glenavon returned to the top spot thanks to desire and depth against a newly-promoted Newry City AFC side left, once again, without any reward on the road for some positive play.

A seventh successive away defeat in the Danske Bank Premiership for Newry remained in the balance until 79 minutes when Andy Hall’s sharp reactions signalled a frantic spell of two goals and a red card in quick succession.

Ben Doherty’s speculative curling corner-kick that drifted over the head of Andy Coleman cemented Glenavon control before Newry suffered a final blow with the dismissal of Declan Carville.

Newry City boss Darren Mullen was left to reflect on another fixture that emphasised the importance of small margins on the biggest stage, although a decision not to hand Glenavon’s Stephen Murray a red card following an act of petulance at 0-0 left the visiting boss highlighting what he considers a pattern of calls going against his club compared to some of the more established names.

“We are creating chances, playing well and working hard but getting nothing for it,” said Mullen. “We need to take every chance we get, Declan Carville had a big chance but didn’t take it, Mark McCabe had a big chance but didn’t take it, then you get punished.

“The only consolation is the improvement on the previous performance against Institute, which I felt was abysmal, unacceptable and needed a reaction.

“In fairness, they did that today so I’m gutted as they worked really, really hard.

“We are hurting at the minute but there are a lot of positives to take, we did react to the previous poor performance up against the league leaders with quality players.

“Mark Sykes is a joy to watch, a quality player who I expect at some point to be playing at a higher level.

“We are missing three centre-halves and don’t have a huge squad, so hopefully we can get a few more in over January.

“Immediately after a defeat the boys are deflated having put everything in over a good performance and end-to-end match but I won’t let morale drop and we now need to focus on the next one.

“We’ve been through a lot the past four or five years and knew this season would be difficult but that is the brutal nature of Premiership football.”

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton is keeping his focus on each immediate challenge rather than looking beyond from his position at the head of the standings.

“I thought it was a difficult game for us but I knew they would come here and give us a hard game,” said Hamilton. “Down at The Showgrounds earlier in the season was probably the hardest match we’ve had this season.

“They were really well set up that night and probably deserved something more, with today very similar up until the last 15 minutes.

“You have to grind out results in this league, it’s really difficult and, if not on your game, anyone can beat any other team.

“Newry’s a decent side and I’ve been impressed with them over our two games, the earlier match being the only time this year when we’ve had the result we probably didn’t deserve.

“I think it’s open, with Cliftonville starting to put results together and you will always have Coleraine up there, plus Crusaders have too much quality to fall away.

“But we are just looking at game to game, trying to pick up points and not think about any title race.”