IRISH LEAGUE: Glenavon move up to third spot following late, late show against Ballinamallard

Ivan Sproule of Ballinamallard and Andy McGrory of Glenavon
Ivan Sproule of Ballinamallard and Andy McGrory of Glenavon


It was the Gary Hamilton late, late show as the Glenavon boss struck in stoppage time to move Glenavon into third place.

With Cliftonville and Coleraine dropping points, the Lurgan men now sit six points behind Linfield who occupy second spot.

The first half could only be described as a snoozefest with neither side showing any pattern to their play.

Jonny Tuffey pulled off a great save to deny Stephen O’Flynn with his feet after he got onto a long ball, although O’Flynn was deemed to be offside.

On 22 minutes another long ball to O’Flynn was headed clear by Tuffey on the edge of the penalty area, unsure if he was inside or outside of his box. The ball fell to former Northern Ireland international Ivan Sproule, whose lobbed shot came back off the post.

Ten minutes and at the other end an Andy McGrory free kick was knocked down for Declan O’Brien. He shot with his back to goal, with the chance going narrowly wide.

And, other than an Adam Lecky header which went wide of the mark from a Sproule corner, that was the best of the chances in the first half.

Sproule created the first opportunity in the second period, putting in a low inviting cross into the penalty area, but Rhys Marshall was in the right place to clear the ball.

A short while later a Joel Cooper corner was headed down by Simon Kelly into the path of David Elebert, but he could only sweep the ball wide of the mark.

On the hour mark Ballinamallard’s Ryan Campbell’s low drive from 25 yards was picked up easily by Tuffey.

Substitute Mark Patton played a part in Glenavon’s next chance. He came inside and found Kevin Braniff, and he switched play to Hall. His close range shot was saved by the legs of Stefan McCusker.

Glenavon player-manager Gary Hamilton brought himself on to inject some life into the game and almost created a goal for Hall. He slipped the ball through for the winger to slot under the on-rushing McCusker, but the goalkeeper managed to get the tiniest of deflections onto the ball to only concede a corner.

Mark Sykes had a great chance to break the deadlock with five minutes to go with a screamer of a volley from 20 yards out, but it sailed narrowly over the crossbar.

But Hamilton nicked it for hosts on 91 minutes when a Hall free kick found Braniff. His shot was scuffed but made its way to the Glenavon manager to score from six yards out.

Glenavon: Tuffey, Kelly, Dillon, Marshall, Cooper, Hall, Sykes, McGrory, O’Brien, Braniff, Elebert. Subs: Patton (Cooper 67), Hamilton (O’Brien 77), Delaney, Marron, Burns.

Ballinamallard United: McCusker, Morris, Elliott, Dykes, Lecky, McCabe, McKenna, Beacom, O’Flynn, Campbell, Sproule. Subs: Mayse, Currie (Campbell 76), Falconer (Elliott 69), Smith, Brownlee.

Referee: Ross Dunlop.