Glenavon are inching ever closer to that Euro spot
Glenavon 5-0 Cliftonville
Glenavon are just getting better and better.
The Lurgan Blues made it five wins in a row with the destruction of Cliftonville moving them alongside the outgoing champions in third place in the Premiership table and, no matter how long manager Gary Hamilton refuses to mention it, Europe is definitely on his mind.
Two goals from Kevin Braniff, supplemented by second half strikes from Eoin Bradley, David Elebert and Mark Patton inflicted the Reds' heaviest defeat for four years and sends Glenavon into the final three matches of the season as the in-form team - with Cliftonville's goal difference advantage over the Lurgan Blues chopped from 18 to eight in one pulsating swoop.
Before yesterday, only Crusaders had gained more points than the Mourneview side in 2015 and only the champions elect have beaten them. Little wonder that first team coach Nigel Law - whose club announced a new three-year deal for Rhys Marshall after the match - was purring.
"We thoroughly deserved every inch of that result, we were absolutely magnificent and today topped anything in my time at the club, our most complete performance," he said.
"The way we've been defending around the penalty box this year is magnificent. Three clean sheets against Linfield, Glentoran and Cliftonville is not to be sniffed at, but we have to get back to drawing board and prepare for Linfield on Saturday."
No-one was better than Elebert and the fact that 39-goal Joe Gormley had only one shot on target said all you need to know about the defender's display.
James McGrath stopped that effort at point-blank range just before half-time with the scoreline only 1-0 and, after that, it was one-way traffic on Peter Cherrie's goal.
Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin was "not quite shellshocked", but instead put it down to a "bad day at the office".
He also paid tribute to his opponents. "Credit to Glenavon, they were up for it, they won every second ball, pushed on, looked strong up front, looked strong at back and were creative out wide. They deserve all the plaudits today but it one for us to forget," he said.
"The players looked slow in possession, hitting blind passes, taking extra touches and we had no cutting edge."
Glenavon: McGrath, Marshall, Kelly, Elebert, Singleton, McGrory, Martyn, Kilmartin, Patton, Braniff, Bradley. Substitutions: Hamilton (Bradley, 73 mins), Lindsay (Kelly, 78 mins), Caldwell (Elebert, 81 mins).
Cliftonville: Cherrie, Cosgrove, Smyth, Bonner, Seydak, Winchester, Knowles, Catney, M Donnelly, Gormley, McDaid. Substitutions: J Donnelly (McDaid, 62 mins), McMurray (Knowles, 62 mins), McMullan (Winchester, 79 mins).
Man of the match: David Elebert
Match rating: 8/10
Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey)