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Gutsy Glenavon are extra special

Glenavon 3 Cliftonville 2

By Ian Callender

Published 17/11/2016

Spot on: Glenavon’s Andy McGrory scores from the penalty spot in extra time to make it 3-1 last night
Spot on: Glenavon’s Andy McGrory scores from the penalty spot in extra time to make it 3-1 last night

Andy McGrory was Glenavon's extra-time hero as he ended Cliftonville's love affair with the League Cup. The Glenavon midfielder scored twice to claim the man of the match prize in last night's quarter-final and now he is backing his side to go all the way to the final.

"On our day we are a match for anyone in our league and we'll just look forward to the draw. I hear the Crues are out so that's another big team gone but we'll fancy ourselves against anyone," he said.

"Over the 120 minutes both sides had chances to win it but overall I think we deserved it. Cliftonville's record speaks for itself in this competition - going for five in a row - and they make you work hard but thankfully the boys held on."

The team selections underlined the managers' priorities with Gerard Lyttle naming an unchanged team as the Reds, playing in all green, proudly defended the trophy while Gary Hamilton, who did not even name himself as a substitute, retained only four of the team that defeated Ards in the Premiership on Saturday.

"It just shows the strength in depth of our squad," added McGrory. "Gary trusts every member of his squad - and even Caolan Marron, that's two games in a row he's played and he's only 18. He possibly would have got the man of the match but for my two goals."

McGrory's perfectly placed shot from 12 yards, after an excellent lay-off from Guy Bates, gave the Mourneview side a 2-1 lead in the 96th minute and five minutes later when Declan O'Brien was brought down by Reds keeper Peter Burke, the Glenavon midfielder made no mistake from the spot.

Substitute Stephen Garrett pulled one back for Cliftonville in the final minute from close range but this was a deserved victory.

Glenavon dominated the first half hour and all that was missing was a goal. Mark Sykes, twice in as many minutes, picked up poor clearances by Burke but his first attempt, with the goal gaping, was hit badly wide and his second, while falling over, was hooked over the bar.

In the 51st minute Cliftonville skipper Jason McGuinness wasted a good chance.

The breakthrough came five minutes later and it was the home side who finally cashed in. Thomas Cosgrove appeared to be fouled on the halfway line but as he lay prone, the referee waved play on and Greg Moorhouse ran unchallenged to the edge of the box before coolly placing his shot in off the upright.

Midway through the half sub Ruari Harkin was the provider. The October Player of the Month raced to the byline and when he cut the ball back to Davy McDaid, the striker's shot came off Kris Lindsay and trickled in.

Rhys Marshall almost won it in the 92nd minute for Glenavon but Burke produced a super save to take the game into extra time.

Belfast Telegraph

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