Belfast Telegraph

Brilliant Kevin Braniff sparkles in match-winning display

Glenavon 1-0 Ballinamallard United

By Roy Taggart

Kevin Braniff's first goal for Glenavon edged them to a 1-0 victory over Ballinamallard at Mourneview Park.

The ex-Portadown striker was dazzling throughout, his quick feet and perfect passing cut through Ballinamallard United time and time again.

It was perhaps his best display to date in a Glenavon shirt and the Mallards defence simply couldn't keep up with him.

There has been 21 goals in the last seven meetings between these sides, but as chance came and went throughout the first half, it became evident this game wouldn't yield quite so much goalmouth action.

It took until the 50th minute for the goal to arrive. Fitting when it came it was brilliant Braniff who caressed his shot beyond Fergal Murphy. His volley crashed low into the net after Gareth McKeown's trademark long throw had been flicked on by Kris Lindsay.

Glenavon had dominated possession in the opening 45 minutes. They huffed and puffed, but couldn't get past Murphy, who seemed in inspired form.

Braniff was the man making everything happen, dazzling the away defence almost every time he got the ball.

He had the first effort eight minutes in when he opened up his body and curled an effort in at goal, but didn't get enough whip on it to swing it into the far bottom corner.

Braniff fed Ciaran Martyn in on 20 minutes for Glenavon's best chance of the half, but the midfielder couldn't repeat his scoring exploits from Solitude a couple of weeks ago, when he grabbed a hat-trick and his shot was saved.

It felt like it was Braniff versus Ballinanallard's Jonny Lafferty at times as the duo shone from start to finish.

The former Strabane striker was sublime in his build-up for the Mallards, but it just was not his day in front of goal.

He could and perhaps should have had a hat-trick. On 19 minutes, he was fed in for his side's first chance of the game, latching onto Stuart Hutchinson's through ball, but Alan Blayney denied him when he could and should have found the net.

Braniff also tested Murphy with a rasping effort before the half time whistle, but as Martyn also found out, the keeper wouldn't be easily beaten.

On the stoke of half time Lafferty's best chance arrived care of Kyle Neill's slip in he penalty area. The striker was quick to seize on the loose ball, but with the goal at his mercy, he blazed an effort over.

On 74 minutes, Lafferty also had a chance to level the game but, played through on goal again, Blayney came out the victor once more.

After Braniff finally broke the deadlock The Mallards pushed for an equaliser but another chance, they couldn't muster.

Glenavon, then, kept their second clean sheet of the season and edged their way up the league and into fourth.

For the Mallards, the table doesn't provide such pleasing reading as they slip into second bottom, only off the foot of the table on goals scored.

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