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Fitzpatrick fires home to deal blow to Glens' title bid

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Matt finish: Glenavon players mob Matthew Fitzpatrick after his winner against Glentoran

Matt finish: Glenavon players mob Matthew Fitzpatrick after his winner against Glentoran

Inpho/Stephen Hamilton

Matt finish: Glenavon players mob Matthew Fitzpatrick after his winner against Glentoran

Two moments of sheer quality and a great deal of character gave Glenavon a magnificent comeback victory over Glentoran and dealt a blow to the east Belfast men's Danske Bank Premiership title hopes.

After going 1-0 down to the Glens' first effort on target when Ruaidhri Donnelly opened the scoring midway through the first half, Glenavon refused to give up the fight and after a spectacular equaliser from Robbie Garrett 20 minutes from time they were celebrating victory when substitute Matthew Fitzpatrick struck the winner.

It was no more than they deserved against a Glens team whose lack of penetration ultimately cost them.

There was plenty of pace about the game as both teams were intent on attacking at every opportunity.

Despite that, it wasn't until Michael O'Connor's shot after 19 minutes that there was an effort on target.

Glenavon were vulnerable to being undone on the break and that is exactly what happened after 24 minutes when Glentoran grabbed the lead with their first effort on target.

It wasn't, however, without controversy.

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The ball appeared to strike Conor McMenamin's arm as he tried to control a pass sprayed out to the left side. When the whistle didn't sound, he sped down the left and after his initial cross was blocked the Glens' big January transfer window signing collected the ball again, drove into the box and his low, driven ball into the six-yard box was forced home by Donnelly.

Just after the hour mark and with the game finely balanced, Glenavon threw twin strikers Gareth McCaffrey and Fitzpatrick into the action in an attempt to salvage something from the contest.

They were to have a telling impact later, but it was Garrett who would deal the first blow to Glentoran, collecting the ball from Peter Campbell - who easily danced through a couple of Glens players without a challenge being put in - and rifling a wonderful shot into the top corner to get Glenavon back on level terms with 20 minutes to go.

The Lurgan Blues completely turned the game on its head when they scored again just four minutes later.

A dangerous ball into the box hit McCaffrey on the chest and when it dropped in front of goal, Fitzpatrick was perfectly placed to power home a close-range finish to win the game for Glenavon.

GLENAVON: Hyland, Douglas (Norton 67), Doyle, Ward, Singleton, Byrne (McCaffrey 62), M O'Connor, Garrett, Campbell, McCloskey, Purkis (Fitzpatrick 62).

Subs not used: J Taylor, Harmon, Norton, O Taylor, Rea.

GLENTORAN: Brown, Marron (Mitchell 82), McCullough, McClean, Kane, R Donnelly, Marshall, Gallagher, McMenamin, McDaid (C O'Connor 34, Gorman 80), J Donnelly.

Subs not used: Morris, Bigirimana, McDonagh, Clucas.

Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor)

Man of the match: Andrew Doyle

Match rating: 7/10


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