Linfield’s title dream dashed by Glenavon at Mourneview Park

Ciaran Martyn battles with Stephen Lowry
Ciaran Martyn battles with Stephen Lowry

GLENAVON 1 LINFIELD 0

Any hopes Linfield had of winning the title now hang by a thread after Glenavon did enough to see them off at Mourneview Park.

The gap between the Blues and Crusaders now stands at nine points, making next week’s game between the two sides an all-or-nothing fixture.

Defeat for Warren Feeney’s side would almost certainly send the title to Seaview.

Linfield had the first opportunity of the game, Aaron Burns’ free header going just over the bar.

Burns will feel he should have done better on 15 minutes when his tame effort was gathered up by James McGrath. Ultimately this led to Glenavon taking the lead, the goalkeeper punting the ball upfield. It fell kindly for Eoin Bradley, who took advantage of a Niall Quinn mistake to lob Jonathan Tuffey and the Lurgan men the lead.

And they could have had a second when Tuffey missed a cross by James Singleton, with Kevin Braniff finishing at the back post. However, Dungannon whistle blower Raymond Hetherington decided that Tuffey had been fouled by Bradley as he jumped for the ball.

Linfield then had claims for a penalty turned down after Andrew Waterworth was challenged inside the box by Kris Lindsay.

Warren Feeney’s men were incensed and tempers threatened to spill over as Glenavon’s Mark Patton and Linfield’s Ross Clarke were both booked following an altercation.

Waterworth could have levelled the scores, but he pulled an effort wide of the target after getting on the end of a long ball from Niall Quinn, while just before the half time whistle blew Ciaran Martyn and Bradley linked up, only for the latter to see his shot deflected wide for a corner.

Linfield pushed for an equaliser as the second half got underway and McGrath had to be alert to pushed away and then gather up a shot by Waterworth, one which the striker hit as he was turning his marker inside the box.

Ciaran Caldwell came on at the break and could have made it 2-0 when Bradley raced onto and held up a brilliant pass through the middle by Martyn. He played a pass into the path of the on rushing midfielder, but his effort was scuffed and wide.

Sammy Morrow then saw a chance cleared off the line by Kris Lindsay, before Matthew Clarke curled a free kick from the edge of the box onto the crossbar with Mcgrath back-pedalling.

Both teams were giving it their all, Jimmy Callacher shooting over after Stephen Lowry’s blocked shot had fallen kindly for him. Glenavon broke again, this time with Bradley hitting his effort off the goalkeeper and wide for a corner.

Ross Clarke was sent off for the Blues after a second booking following a tackle on Rhys Marshall, completing a bad day at the office for the visitors.

GLENAVON: McGrath, Kelly, Lindsay, Bradley, Patton, McGrory, O’Brien, Marshall, Braniff, Martyn, Singleton. Subs: McKeown, Neill (Patton 90), Caldwell (O’Brien 46), Elebert, Lynch.

LINFIELD: Tuffey, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Burns, Ward, M Clarke, Morrow, Quinn, R Clarke. Subs: Ross Glendinning, Carvill (Quinn 74), Reece Glendinning, Browne (Morrow 66), Sproule.

BOOKINGS: Burns 31 R Clarke 42, 87;

REFEREE: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)