Glenavon were victorious in their home encounter against Institute, as Ciaran Martyn’s early second half goal added to Ciaran Caldwell’s 33rd minute header to rule out a finish from Robbie Hume.
It began as a balanced game, with Institute claiming the first real chance when Robbie Hume broke free down the wing, but the forward was unable to pick out Duwayne McManus in the box after outpacing James Singleton to find the cross.
Glenavon immediately responded with their own opportunity, a well-timed ball through from Kevin Braniff finding Eoin Bradley in the box. Bradley chipped the ball over goalkeeper Saul Deeney, but Dean Curry got back to clear the ball away.
The home side threatened again when a good bit of link-up play between Bradley and Braniff resulted in Braniff slotting ex-Derry City midfielder Ciaran Martyn into the ‘Stute area, but he dragged his shot wide, although he should’ve scored.
Paul Kee’s team then had their own chance when a one-two between Darren McFadden and Stephen Curry on the edge of the Glenavon area allowed Curry the opportunity to launch at goal, however his shot was comfortably saved by James McGrath.
Bradley found his way through again, but new ‘Stute net-minder Saul Deeney – who formerly played for Derby and Notts County – showed off his experience by rushing out to clear his lines, denying Glenavon the opportunity to strike at goal.
This quick-thinking defensive approach didn’t last long however, and on 33 minutes Glenavon opened the scoring after Braniff’s cross caught ‘Stute sleeping as Dean Curry let it bounce, and Caldwell ran past his marker Peter Bradley to head in easily from close range.
Institute bounced back with two good efforts from Darren McFadden, firstly a free-kick from 25 yards, which was denied by McGrath as it curled towards bottom left corner, and then a close-range shot from inside the area which was once more well saved.
Just as the 4th official indicated for the one minute of stoppage time, and it appeared that Glenavon would enter the break in the lead, ‘Stute grabbed a goal. McFadden pulled the ball back to Hume who drilled a shot low and hard towards the keeper’s left corner, and McGrath could only get a hand to it as it bounced up into the top of his net.
HT: Glenavon 1-1 Institute
Martyn had another chance when after being slotted in by Bradley, and with Mark Forker the only man back, he attempted to slot past Deeney, but again the keeper pulled off a good stop, preventing it this time with his legs on 50 minutes.
Institute should’ve equalised when McFadden picked out Duwayne McManus inside the area after some sloppy defending from Glenavon, but McManus took a second too long to shoot, and his tame effort was easily saved by McGrath.
The Lurgan Blues regained their lead on 55 minutes when captain William Murphy launched a deep free-kick up the field and it was flicked on by Kris Lindsay, landing again to Ciaran Martyn who this time slid the ball home right in front of goal. Deeney made contact with it but he couldn’t prevent it from going in.
Robbie Hume almost balanced the scoreline for a second time when a pass from McManus found him inside the box, but his curled effort tipped the top of the crossbar on its way over. A lucky escape for Gary Hamilton’s men.
Paul Kee had an equally close escape when a corner from McCabe deflected towards Saul Deeny’s bottom corner, but Stephen McLaughlin was on the post to clear off the line, before it fell to Lindsay who shot on edge of the area, but it drifted just wide after 67 minutes
‘Stute fans thought the addition of Michael McCrudden might’ve inspired their side to fight their way back into the game, the midfield maestro making just his second appearance coming on as a 72nd minute substitute for Mark Forker.
Glenavon had another chance when Eoin Bradley launched a high Alonso-esque pass across the field towards Braniff, who took the ball down on his foot well on the left wing, but he could only misfire wide of goal with his low effort.
The Sky Blues had a great opportunity on 79 minutes when Stephen Curry skipped past James Singleton to find Robbie Hume who hit the ball on the volley from 8 yards out, but he could only manage to smash it over the bar. It looked easier to miss.
Despite maintaining the lead, Glenavon didn’t give up their attacking approach, and substitute Mark Patton threatened with a few late efforts, but he couldn’t make his way past the ‘Stute defence, and the game concluded at 2-1 to the home team.
FT: Glenavon 2-1 Institute
Glenavon: James McGrath, Kyle Neill (72′), William Murphy (c), Kris Lindsay, Eoin Bradley (88′), Ciaran Caldwell, Rhys Marshall, Kevin Braniff, Shane McCabe, Ciaran Martyn (65′), James Singleton.
Subs: Gareth McKeown, Simon Kelly, Mark Patton (72′), Andy McGrory (65′), Declan O’Brien (88′).
Institute: Saul Deeney, Dean Curry, Peter Bradley, Paddy McLaughlin (c), Stephen O’Donnell, Aaron Walsh, Mark Forker (72′), Duwayne McManus, Darren McFadden, Stephen Curry, Robbie Hume.
Subs: Marty Gallagher, Michael McCrudden (72′), Matty Young, Cormac Burke, Declan McKeever.