IRISH LEAGUE: Glenavon pour further misery on Linfield

Glenavon's Josh Daniels pictured after scoring his team's opening goal against Linfield
Glenavon's Josh Daniels pictured after scoring his team's opening goal against Linfield

Goals from Josh Daniels and Marc Griffin last night made another miserable night for Linfield at Windsor Park.

David Healy’s boys haven’t won in the Danske Bank Premiership since December 23 – and on this form, that horrible run of results doesn’t look like ending.

With a top three place in the league table – they have now lost nine games in the campaign - rapidly disappearing over the horizon, their hopes of silverware this season now rests with Saturday’s Irish Cup tie with Cliftonville.

The Blues can have no complaints over their latest debacle. They were out thought and out fought by Gary Hamilton’s Glenavon on a bitterly cold February evening at Windsor Park. The result almost certainly zaps any chances of them claiming an automat European place by finishing in the top three.

Linfield should have been in front after only five minutes. Jimmy Callacher managed to winkle out a pass to Achille Campion and, with the goal at his mercy, he fired harmlessly wide.

But the visitors were in no mood to be intimidated. Bobby Burns took off on a penetrating surge through the middle before picking out Daniels but as he was about to shoot, defender Jimmy Callacher came storming in with a great challenge.

Striker Andy Waterworth then tried his luck with a looping drive from the edge of the box following a sublime pass from Kirk Millar, but the effort sailed into the arms of Johnny Tuffey.

But it was the visiting fans who were celebrating on 21 minutes with that Daniels strike.

Stephen Murray and Andrew Mitchell combined cleverly before playing in the little winger, whose quick turn of pace took him clear and his finish was top drawer, firing low and hard past Gareth Deane.

The Blues responded with Camping drilling in a low shot from the edge of the box which Tuffey gratefully gathered with Kurtis Byrne ready to pick up the pieces.

Waterworth’s clever turn earned him a yard of space on the edge of the penalty area, but his low drive was brilliantly touched to safety by Tuffey.

But Glenavon were always dangerous on the break and they almost struck again on 32 minutes.

Murray took off on a blistering run on the right before cutting a great pass back for Mitchell, but he completely miss-kicked in front of goal and he chance was gone.

Mitchell tried to make up for his error by trying his luck with a stinging 30 yard drive, but Deane got own smartly to save.

Healy’s troops roared from the traps after the restart, with defender Carolan Marron relieved to head behind a dangerous Kirk Millar cross at the expense of a corner kick.

The dangerous Millar then threaded a pass to Byrne, whose audacious effort flew over the crossbar.

Millar, probably the most creative player on the pitch, whipped over another delicious cross from the right that Waterworth managed to flick towards goal, but Tuffey got down to smother.

Glenavon missed a great chance of putting the game to bed on 65 minutes when Joe Crowe’s wayward throw in was picked up by Mitchell, who sent Murray racing clear, but with only Deane to beat, he could only shoot against the legs of the shot stopper.

Then set-piece expert Sammy Clingan hammered a 25 yard free kick inches past the post after Mark Stafford has hauled back substitute Marc Griffin.

The visitors were right out of luck with 17 minutes remaining with Andy McGrory’s shot was flicked on to the crossbar by the outstretched glove of Deane.

Glenavon got the second goal they deserved 10 minutes from time when substitute Griffin’s shot took a deflection off Mark Stafford that left Deane totally helpless.

LINFIELD: Deane, Stafford, Crowe, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Millar, Byrne (Strain 66), Mulgrew, Campion (Rooney 82), Quinn.

Unused subs: Robinson, Fallon, Mitchell.

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Burns, Daniels (Kelly 68), Marshall, Mitchell (Foley 71), Hall (Griffin 52), Marron. Clingan, McGrory, Murray, Singleton.

Unused subs: Taylor, O’Mahoney.

REFEREE: Evan Boyce.