Belfast Telegraph

Andy Mitchell at the double as Glenavon ramp up title tilt

Glenavon 4-0 Coleraine

Back of the net: Andrew Mitchell beats Coleraine keeper Chris Johns last night
Back of the net: Andrew Mitchell beats Coleraine keeper Chris Johns last night

By Steve Jones

Andy Mitchell's first-half double proved decisive as Glenavon got their title aspirations back on track with a 4-0 win against a below-par Coleraine at Mourneview Park.

In truth, the damage was done in the opening 45 minutes but the classy Mark Sykes added the decisive third after the break as the Lurgan Blues cruised to all three points in front of the BBC cameras.

There was even time for substitute Jordan Jenkins to add a late fourth to rub further salt into the Irish Cup holders' wounds.

After Coleraine made a bright start in County Armagh, it would be Glenavon who would make the breakthrough on 11 minutes as a clever ball by Andy Hall sent Conor McCloskey running down the right wing.

The attacker went on a surging run and squared the ball to Mitchell who converted from close range.

The visitors should have been level on 19 minutes as a clever flick by Eoin Bradley released his strike partner Jamie McGonigle. The Northern Ireland under-21 international raced through on goal but Johnny Tuffey was there to save with his legs.

On 22 minutes, Glenavon thought they had strengthened their lead as Steven Douglas was caught napping by Hall and his rasping effort was held by Johns.

However the lead was doubled on 34 minutes as Mitchell received the ball on the byline and his first time cross inadvertently found the top corner. It was nearly three before the break as Hall's inswinging corner-kick rattled the crossbar with Johns rooted to the spot.

There would be more frustration for Gary Hamilton's troops as Sykes seized possession in the box after being found by Rhys Marshall but he couldn't find the target.

Mitchell had the perfect opportunity to claim the match ball on 48 minutes as a long kick up the park by Tuffey reached McCloskey. The ex-Ballymena player cleverly headed the ball into Mitchell's path but Johns made an outstanding stop from close range.

After Clingan had a goal bound effort blocked by the legs of Steven Douglas, the Bannsiders went on the counter attack and Aaron Canning's clever play forced his shot to be diverted out for a corner by defender Caolan Marron.

The third goal arrived in fine style on 67 minutes as substitute Stephen Murray was able to turn his marker and slip the ball to Sykes.

The talented midfielder - who is linked with a move to Port Vale - burst into the area and slotted past Johns.

The visitors almost grabbed a consolation goal on 73 minutes as Darren McCauley found space inside the area but his effort never threatened Tuffey.

The Lurgan Blues threatened on 85 minutes as a fantastic corner-kick was headed inches wide by Rhys Marshall, but a fourth goal duly arrived two minutes later as Murray's deflected shot was picked up by Jenkins who slotted home.

The win moves Glenavon to within a point of Linfield as the Bannsiders slip to their fifth league defeat of the season.

GLENAVON: Tuffey, King, Marron, Marshall, Mitchell (Jenkins '69), Sykes (Harmon '85), Hall, Clingan, McCloskey (Murray '54), Singleton, Doherty.

Subs not Used: Taylor (GK), Grace, Larmour, Muir.

COLERAINE: Johns, Kane, Harkin (Gawne '83), Douglas (Mullan '81), McCauley, Lowry, Bradley, Carson, McConaghie, McGonigle (Parkhill '59), Canning.

Subs not Used: Doherty (GK), McLaughlin, Crown, Whiteside.

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