IRISH LEAGUE: Linfield win Irish Cup rehearshal with Glenavon

Glenavon's Robbie Norton with Linfield's Michael McLennan
Glenavon's Robbie Norton with Linfield's Michael McLennan

GLENAVON 0 LINFIELD 1

Glenavon and Linfield warmed up for next Saturday’s Irish Cup final by giving youth a chance!

Anyone hoping to use this game as a form guide for next Saturday’s showpiece decider will have been left disappointed. Both teams named unrecognisable starting XIs, with both sides making 11 changes each; the two managers having next Saturday’s Windsor Park decider in mind.

In fact, Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton started himself at centre back and gave debuts to four others.

Linfield had the first opportunity on five minutes which fell to Ross Clarke, but his shot from distance on five minutes flew wide.

Mark Stafford could have put the visitors in front but his hearer, from Niall Quinn’s corner, flew wide of the mark.

Declan O’Brien will be wondering how he failed to stay on his feet for Glenavon’s first chance. Mark Sykes played a great pass forward to the striker, but just as he was taking aim he lost his balance and the ball missed the target.

The Dubliner missed again on 23 minutes, heading a Hamilton corner wide, and then two minutes later he was denied as both Ross Glendenning and Mark Stafford came to the rescue on the line.

At the other end Mark McLellan headed over, while a cheeky backheel by Ruairi Croskery missed the target just after the half hour mark.

Just after the restart McLellan chanced his arm from 20 yards after taking a touch but his effort was wide of James McGrath’s target.

And the former Harland and Wolff Welders man was unlucky as he hit the side netting after being played through by Gary Lavery.

Debutant Robbie Norton was unlucky just before the hour mark when his effort failed to trouble Glendenning, while James McGrath, Glenavon’s cup hero in 2014, pulled out a good save to deny McLellan’s header.

On 69 minutes Glendenning was equal to a fine attempt by Mark Sykes after a low pass by Alex McIlmail.

However, Glenavon’s young charges were to be left heartbroken on 82 minutes when the unmarked Croskery headed home from an Eamonn Scanell corner.

GLENAVON: McGrath, McGrory, Hamilton, Sykes, O’Brien, Kearns, Delaney, McIlmail, Burns, Savage, Norton. Subs: Morgan (Norton 58), McKeown (Hamilton 71), Robinson (Sykes 75), McKenna, Murphy.

LINFIELD: Ross Glendenning, Stafford, Foster, McLellan, Croskery, Fallon, Reece Glendenning, Lavery, Quinn, Clarke, McCallum. Subs: Malone, Neale (Foster 83), Moore (Lavery 71), Scannell (Quinn 62), Moore.

REFEREE: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)