GLENAVON 2 LOUGHGALL 1
There will be two Lurgan teams in the semi-finals of the Irish Cup for the first time ever!
And there were celebrations at the full time whistle at Mourneview Park, firstly when it was confirmed that Glenavon had secured their place in the last four, and again when it was announced that neighbours Lurgan Celtic had saw off Portadown with a late winner.
Glenavon dominated the early exchanges of this quarter-final tie and should have been well ahead inside the first 15 minutes, only for their own misfortune and some good goalkeeping by Gareth Buchanan.
Inside the first minute Joel Cooper had a shot blocked for a a corner, and two minutes later Declan O’Brien had a header from a Cooper corner punched away.
At the other end Daniel Ryan scuffed a shot along the ground which was easily picked up by Jonathan Tuffey. Glenavon went up the other end and Ciaran Martyn blocked an attempted clearance, allowing Cooper to pounce but his shot too was saved by Buchanan.
Cooper then headed a Hall cross over the ball, before Loughgall’s Nicky Hudson headed a Stuart Mallen corner across goal but wide.
Rhys Marshall almost out Glenavon in front on 37 minutes when he got to the byline down the left flank. His cross was blown towards goal thanks to the blustery conditions, with former Glenavon man Ricky Copeland coming to the rescue to head the ball off the line.
Glenavon did eventually get in front on 41 minutes. Kris Lindsay’s looping header from Hall’s cross caused Buchanan to backtrack and palm it away from goal, but O’Brien was on hand to tap in from close range.
And they could have had a second just before the interval when Ciaran Martyn hit the post from the edge of the box.
Loughgall’s task of getting back on level terms was made harder when they were reduced to 10 men, Copeland receiving his marching orders after O’Brien was brought down on the edge of the box. Many in the home end thought the foul had happened inside the box, however, and the decision not to award a penalty may well be a post-match talking point.
Glenavon had further chances to double their lead either side of the hour mark, both falling to Martyn. First Buchanan saved his header from an Andy McGrory cross, and then he had a goal ruled out for offside after the goalkeeper spilt Kevin Braniff’s initial shot.
The hosts were awarded a penalty when Mark Carson, another ex-Glenavon man, brought down McGrory inside the box on 65 minutes. McGrory picked himself up and dispatched the resulting spot kick down the middle.
However, Loughgall weren’t out of the tie just yet and scored through Stuart Mallen slotted home, getting onto the end of a Ryan pass.
Glenavon looked to kill of the tie and O’Brien will be kicking himself for missing a fantastic chance with 10 minutes to go. McGrory found Hall down the right wing and all the striker had to do was tap in from the winger’s cross, but somehow he miscues his effort and Buchanan came to the rescue once again.
But they need not have worried as Glenavon saw the game out to book a place in the semi-finals.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Dillon, Lindsay, Marshall, Cooper, Hall, Sykes, McGrory, O’Brien, Braniff, Martyn. Subs: Kilmartin (Cooper 85), Patton, Hamilton (Braniff 72), Elebert, Burns.
Loughgall: Buchanan, Carson, Taylor, Copeland, Hudson, Henderson, Dallas, Ferguson, Mullen, Ryan, Mallen. Subs: Dane, Tavares (Mallen 90), Stretton, O’Connor, Robinson.
Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)