Declan O’Brien hat-trick helps Glenavon to see off Ballymena United

Ballymena United's Stuart Addis watches as Glenavon's Eoin Bradley strikes a penalty wide
Ballymena United's Stuart Addis watches as Glenavon's Eoin Bradley strikes a penalty wide

Ballymena U 2 Glenavon 4

Declan O’Brien scored a debut hat-trick as Glenavon overcame Ballymena United at the Showgrounds.

The former Drogheda hitman continued his prolific form from south of the border in an entertaining win for the Lurgan Blues.

The visitors were awarded a penalty on eight minutes after Johnny Taylor clipped O’Brien just inside the penalty area.

Bradley quickly grabbed the ball but could only drag a feebly struck spot kick past the left hand post.

Given their early dominance, it was no real surprise that Glenavon went in front on 17 minutes.

Bradley went some way towards atoning for his earlier mistake when his quick footwork in the centre of the pitch left Johnny Taylor on his backside and Bradley then slipped a pass through for Ciaran Martyn to fire first time past Addis.

Ballymena were level two minutes after the restart. Davy Munster played in Gary Thompson down the right hand channel and his low cross was bundled home from close range by Darren Boyce.

But just as United looked to getting on top, they were rocked by a second Glenavon goal on 63 minutes.

It came from a soft free kick, awarded by referee Stephen Wallace after a collision between Shane McCabe and Allan Jenkins. Kyle Neill swung over the kick, Martyn headed the ball towards goal and O’Brien swivelled to volley past Addis.

Glenavon scored a third with 10 minutes to go when Conor Dillon’s long ball forward saw O’Brien break the the offside trap before tapping the ball past Addis and guiding it into the unguarded net.

McCutcheon gave Ballymena some late home as he fired a half-volley over McGrath after William Murphy’s mis-timed header fell into his path.

But hopes of a dramatic equaliser were short-lived as a minute later, after Addis had blocked Mark Patton’s initial effort, the winger lofted the ball back over the keeper and O’Brien nipped in with a final touch at the back post to complete his hat-trick.

Ballymena United: Addis, Kane, Taylor, Munster, McBride (sub Teggart 82), Thompson, McCaul, Jenkins, Boyce, Tipton, McCutcheon. Subs (not used): Surgenor, McCullagh, Shevlin, Gawley.

Glenavon: McGrath, Marshall, Murphy, Dillon, Singleton (sub Patton 83), Caldwell, McCabe, Martyn, Neill, Bradley (sub Hamilton 79), O’Brien. Subs (not used): Lindsay, Kilmartin, Sykes.

Referee: Stephen Wallace (Londonderry).