After today’s well-deserved victory at Seaview Gary Hamilton spoke to Gary Ellis of the Lurgan Mail.
Kevin Braniff , who had already forced a save from Sean O’Neill with a clever free kick, bundled the ball in from close range after the Crusaders defence failed to deal with a cross from the right corner flag from Eoin Bradley and after Kyle Neill’s attempt spun off his boot, the former Portadown striker was on hand to force it in from a yard.
Kevin Braniff fires Glenavon into a 1-0 lead. Photo by Stephen Hamilton Presseye
The lead only lasted five minutes though, Declan Caddell firing in after Jordan Owens nodded down Paul Heatley’s corner.
Blaney made a great save to deny Gary McCutcheon when another Heatley corner found its way to the little Scot beyond the back post and he hit a low volley.
Two goals in as many minutes for Glenavon saw the visitors take a 3-1 interval lead. The second goal was a classic counterattack as a misplaced cutback in the Glenavon area was intercepted by Braniff and, despite being scythed down by David Magowan he regained his feet and, with the referee playing a good advantage, measured a perfect through ball to Ciaran Caldwell. He strode forward with only Craig McClean in his way. He waited for the perfect moment to slip the ball out to Bradley and he took one touch before drilling it left-footed beyond O’Neill.
Eoin Bradley celebrates after putting Glenavon 2-1 up. Photo by Stephen Hamilton Presseye
That was in the 42nd minute and two minutes later another swift move up the park saw Rhys Marshall pass the ball to Caldwell and he cut it back to Braniff who caught out Billy Joe Burns by feinting to shoot with his right but letting it run onto his left foot before shooting in low from 12 yards.
Crusaders’ Jordan Owens in action with Glenavon’s Alan Blayney. Photo by Stephen Hamilton Presseye
Ten minutes into the second half Marshall missed a chance to add a fourth goal when he failed to get enough contact with the ball after O’Neill had lost Gareth McKeown’s long throw in the centre of the six yard box. On the hour mark Bradley’s free kick was well turned round the post by O’Neill.
McCutcheon then fired into the side netting in the 66th minute before another excellent save, this time with his feet, saw Blaney deflect Richard Clarke’s shot over the bar in the 72nd minute.
A minute later Kyle Neill’s drive drew a good save from O’Neill.
Caldwell capitalised on a shocking passage of play by Crusaders when O’Neill was caught way out of his area having received a throw in from Burns but the former Linfield full back’s attempted pass was intercepted by the Glenavon midfielder and he cooly slotted into the empty net from all of 25 yards with the Crues keeper out of his area and stranded to make it 4-1 with 76 minutes on the clock. That’s hopefully the first of many for Caldwell
Ciaran Caldwell celebrates after putting his side 4-1 up. Photo by Stephen Hamilton Presseye
Bradley could and should have made it five as yet again Glenavon caught the Crues on the break and McGrory’s perfect pass allowed the former Coleraine player to round O’Neill but he fired into the side netting with the goal at his mercy.
Crusaders: O’Neill, Burns, Magowan (c), Robinson, McClean (Hanley 61), Whyte, Caddell, Clarke, Heatley, McCutcheon, Owens (Adamson 57). Subs not used: Friars, O’Carroll, Snoddy.
Cautions: Caddell 20, Adamson 57, Magowan 59
Glenavon: Blaney, McKeown, Dillon, McNally (Murphy 68), Singleton, Marshall (McGrory 79), McCabe (c), Caldwell (Martyn 79), Neill, Braniff, Bradley. Subs not used: Kilmartin, Forsyth.
Cautions: Caldwell 20, Marshall 63, Blaney 74, Braniff 75, Singleton 90
Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus)