IRISH LEAGUE: Teenage Glenavon duo shine in Oval stalemate

Glentoran's Jonathan Smith in action with Glenavon's Mark Sykes''Photographer. Pic: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Glentoran's Jonathan Smith in action with Glenavon's Mark Sykes''Photographer. Pic: Matt Mackey / Press Eye

Two of Glenavon’s teenage stars offered a glimpse of what Glentoran boss Gary Haveron hopes will be a facet of his club’s future.

Centre-back Caolan Marron and midfielder Mark Sykes were two of the visiting side’s shining lights in what was an otherwise frustrating 0-0 draw at the Oval.

Haveron has long talked of a desire to bring through his club’s young talent and the Glenavon duo proved just how effective teenage players can be.

Sykes was Glenavon’s driving force, seizing on any loose ball in midfield and forcing his team forward during an otherwise frustrating 0-0 draw with Glentoran at the Oval.

Marron, meanwhile, offered the latest in a string of strong defensive performances, this time against one of the league’s top marksmen in Curtis Allen.

Both sides hit the bar, both keepers made big saves - it was a game both teams went close to winning.

The hosts had Allen and Chris Lavery to thank for their three first half near-misses. Allen hit the bar and forced a save from two Lavery crosses then on 39, the striker played a superb lofted through ball that was met with a rasping half-volley narrowly wide from Lavery.

Playing into an epocalyptic wind in the second half, the Glens struggled to threaten although Steven Gordon had a gilt-edged chance to bag his fifth of the season and win it on 89. He popped up through on goal but Jonny Tuffey made a top save to celebrate his four-year contract extension with a clean sheet.

Glenavon created their best chance of the first half on just three minutes when Renato carried the ball forward for James Gray to send Greg Moorhouse cleaar but his effort smacked off the underside of the crossbar.

Renato was the only other Glenavon player to give Elliott Morris a first half sweat but his goalbound effort was blocked by Jay Magee.

The Brazilian was causing bother and shortly after the restart sent a well-struck effort just past the apex of the goal.

When he was substituted on 68, Ciaran Martyn took up the mantle of goal threat and saw a header tipped over.

Then came Glenavon’s own late chance to win it. Seconds after Tuffey stopped from Gordon, Mark Sykes curled a free-kick off the crossbar.

And so Glenavon strengthen their grip on sixth - they’ve now lost just once in their 10 trips to the Oval.

GLENTORAN: Morris, Magee, Kane, Allen, Lavery, McAlorum, Addis, Gordon, Redman, Ferrin, Smith (Harmon 66).

Unused Subs: Novo, Foley, Nelson, Caldwell.

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Canning, Marshall, Patton (Cooper 56), Sykes, Marron, Moorhourse, Elebert, Singleton, Gray (Bates 68), Renato (Martyn 68).

Unused SUbs: Lindsay, Kilmartin.