Classy Reds embarrass Blues


AN embarrassingly dreadful Glenavon performance led to a 2-0 defeat to Cliftonville at Mourneview Park on Saturday afternoon.

The rather modest scoreline flattered the home side who had very rarely looked capable or even willing to cross the halfway line throughout a dire 90 minutes of football.

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The Blues appeared unable to pass the ball, to move into space or to even look remotely likely to threaten the opposition goal; all aspects of the game that Cliftonville found all too easy.

As bad as Glenavon were, Cliftonville were every bit as good and gave their opponents a master class in footballing ability as they stroked the ball about the Mourneview Park surface to the pleasure of their vocal supporters.

Glenavon started the game with only one recognised striker, Tony Grant, on the pitch with James Costello and Ryan Harpur dropping to the bench in favour of Willo McDonagh and Trevor Molloy.

Almost as soon as the game kicked off, the sheer gulf in class between the sides became evident as Cliftonville immediately pinned Glenavon into their own half and could have taken an early lead but impressive young midfielder, Mark Clarke, nodded a free header over the bar from six yards out.

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After Chris Scannell had then fired wide from 20 yards out, he was again played in by brother, Ronan, but just missed the ball in the box after a coming together with Glenavon defender, Hugh Dickson. Weak calls for a penalty from the hopeful Reds support then fell on deaf ears as referee, Arnold Hunter rightfully waved play on.

Soon after, Andrew Plummer’s punched clearance was played back into the box by Ciaran Caldwell for Scannell to flick the ball just wide of the far post.

At the other end, Glenavon were offering little with Tony Grant cutting a lonely figure, frequently the only Blues player venturing into Cliftonville’s half of the pitch.

The flaws of the home side were also shown up in defence on 24 minutes when Liam Boyce gave his side a predictable opening goal. Stuart King cheaply gave the ball away with an aimless hoof forward which was immediately played back over his head, finding Chris Scannell in space on the right wing. Shambolic defending ensued when both Jay Magee and Hugh Dickson were attracted to the ball, leaving Boyce in acres of space in the penalty area from where he smashed the ball past a helpless Andrew Plummer after Scannell had easily slipped the ball into his strike partner.

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The lead could even have been stretched just minutes later when George McMullan was teed up 20 yards out and smashed the ball towards goal where Plummer brilliantly tipped it over the bar.

Plummer, one of the few Glenavon players to take any credit from the afternoon, made yet another top save on 29 minutes when Liam Boyce smashed a low, hard drive at goal from 20 yards out. The stopper got down well to block the effort before smothering the loose ball marginally before Caldwell could stab it into the net.

Cliftonville, however, continued their onslaught of Plummer’s goal, pouring forward relentlessly and George McMullan tried to give his side an audacious second on 35 minutes. The winger attempted a stylish lob into the far corner from 30 yards out which flew just wide of the post.

Glenavon then forced their way into Cliftonville’s box for the first time, albeit very briefly. A long free-kick was headed behind for a corner kick which, taken by Stuart King, failed to clear the first man and was cleared as far as Barry Johnston who lumped a hopeful 35 yard effort over the bar.

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However, Cliftonville soon returned to the other end of the pitch and should have bagged their second just before the break when Peter Hutton headed over unmarked from six yards out.

Glenavon began the second half brighter than the first and could even have scored what would have been an undeserved equaliser within seconds of the restart. Tony Grant crossed to the near post and found Trevor Molloy, whose flick towards goal was tipped behind by goalkeeper, John Connolly.

However, Glenavon’s dominance didn’t last and on 52 minutes, Cliftonville really should have stretched their lead when Mark Haughey’s clearance was blocked by George McMullan and fell to Chris Scannell in the box who scuffed his shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.

On 59 minutes, the Blues had their last real chance of the game when Johnston’s free-kick was headed on by Trevor Molloy, finding Hugh Dickson but the defender’s first touch was too heavy and his ensuing shot could only be stabbed into the goalkeeper’s arms.

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It was only a matter of time, then, until Cliftonville put the game beyond their opponents and Kieran O’Connor should have done so just after the hour mark but his free-header from six yards out was well saved by Andrew Plummer.

The goal duly came on 74 minutes when George McMullan played a right wing cross into the box and found Liam Boyce who controlled well before firing calmly into the bottom corner.

The Reds easily closed out the game and never looked like conceding to the lacklustre home side who put in their worst performance of the season and many of whom should be picking up their pay packets with suitably red faces come the end of the week.

GLENAVON: Plummer, Magee, Dickson, Walsh, Grant (Costello 68), Molloy, King (Carvill 61), McDonagh, Haughey, Davey, Johnston (Harpur 75). Unused subs: Murray, Gracey

CLIFTONVILLE: Connolly, R Scannell, Holland, Donaghy, McMullan, C Scannell, Caldwell (Dunlop 86), Boyce (Jones 92), O’Connor, Clarke (Patterson 86), Hutton. Unused subs: Fleming, O’Hara.