Belfast Telegraph

Patton's late strike gives Glenavon hope for return

By Bill Steele

Glenavon were left to rue a number of gilt-edged chances after losing their Europa League opener to their Belarussian visitors. But Mark Patton's late goal has, at least given them hope for their trip to Soligorsk next week, as it reduced the deficit to just one goal.

It was the worst possible start for Gary Hamilton's side as Mikhail Afanasiev put the visitors in front inside two minutes, scoring into an empty net. He capitalised after James McGrath had used his knees to block an initial effort by Mikalai Yanush - after a poor kick out from the keeper - and when the block landed at the striker's feet, he couldn't miss from 10 yards out.

The hosts had plenty of opportunities in the first 45 minutes, however not one was directly on goal.

Rhys Marshall might feel he could have done better inside the six-yard box when Simon Kelly headed down an Andy Hall free kick into his path, but the young defender's side-footed effort lacked pace.

Then, defender-turned-midfielder Conor Dillon got his head onto another Hall set piece but his effort was wide of the mark.

Then came those mistakes that were to prove Glenavon's downfall.

First, Ciaran Martyn tried to play the ball back to McGrath but his pass fell too short and Dimitri Kamarouski beat the goalkeeper to the ball and put Soligorsk two up.

He was unlucky not to add a second just before half time after another error from a blue shirt, but his effort hit the post.

Glenavon went close to getting back into the tie in the 48th minute when Eoin Bradley lobbed the keeper but it was cleared off the line by defender Rybak.

The visitors could have effectively ended the tie just seconds later, but after McGrath denied Mikoliunas the follow-up from Yanush was deflected wide for a corner.

At the other end there was a glorious chance for Martyn but, from just six yards out, he fluffed his lines and managed to fall over the ball.

A Kevin Braniff free kick, curled over the wall from 25 yards was pushed away by the Bushma who managed to get both hands behind the shot.

But it was Patton who provided Glenavon with that little bit of light at the end of the tunnel on 86 minutes. Again Bradley managed to lure Bushma off his line and provided a brilliant cross which evaded player-manager Hamilton but Patton was at the back post to rifle home.

Portadown have signed defender Mark Carson from Belfast Telegraph Championship 1 side Loughgall.

GLENAVON: McGrath, Kelly, Marshall, Dillon, Elebert (Lindsay 64), Singleton, Kilmartin (Patton 67), Hall (Hamilton 83), Martyn, Bradley, Braniff. Subs: McKeown, Neill, Sykes, Caldwell.

SHAKHTYOR SOLIGORSK: Bushma, Rybak, Yanushkevich, Yurevich, Kuzmyanok, Matsveychyk, Afanasyev (Covic 73), Starhorodskyi, Mikoliunas (Kovalev 52), Komarovski (Martynyuk 84), Yanush. Subs: Kotenko, Shlbun, Vasilewski, Vergeychik.

Man of the match: James Singleton. Referee: Dag Vidar Hafsas (Norway).

Belfast Telegraph


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