Classy Clingan leads Glenavon to another win ahead of top two clash
Carrick Rangers 0 Glenavon 2
Glenavon plan to give unbeaten Danske Bank Premiership leaders Coleraine their toughest game yet when they visit Mourneview Park on Saturday.
The top two meet in what Glenavon assistant coach Kris Lindsay describes as a "massive game" but the satisfaction of successfully negotiating the tricky hurdle of a visit to the Belfast Loughshore Arena sends the Lurgan Blues into the game with great confidence.
"Since Carrick came back up to the Premiership we have struggled down here (this was only their second win in seven)," said Lindsay. "We probably didn't have any stand-out performers but everybody worked together and we got the job done.
"You can't go out and play Brazilian-style football every game and here we had to win the battles and cope with the (windy) conditions. The young lads coped well, helped by the experienced players - Sammy Clingan was excellent. Our back four were solid and we're happy with three points leading into the massive game against Coleraine."
Clingan showed all his international class and controlled the game from just in front of the back four. He also delivered the free-kick from which Andy Hall fired home the opening goal with the last kick of the first half and then sent Carrick goalkeeper Harry Doherty the wrong way from the penalty spot in the 90th minute to confirm the victory.
It was Doherty who had denied Glenavon a bigger margin of victory with fine stops from Bobby Burns, James Singleton and a Hall free-kick but Carrick, despite their 10th-place position, continue to be frugal at the back.
Before Saturday, only the top five were better in the goal against column, but their problem is at the other end, where no team has scored fewer.
Just when manager Davy McAlinden thought he had all three strikers back to full fitness - Andy Mooney, Mikel Suarez and Martin Maybin were on the field together as they chased the game in the second half - Suarez "felt his hamstring" and had to hobble off, two minutes after Mooney's introduction.
"We frustrated them in the first half and looked decent on the breaks," said McAlinden. "(Jonny) Tuffey made a good save (from Maybin) but we didn't make them earn the goal, a loss of concentration. We would have had a chance going in at 0-0 with a '400mph' wind in our favour but 0-1 makes it more difficult. I felt we had goals in us in the second half but we couldn't get into good enough areas.
"When we lost Mikel's aerial threat they breathed a big sigh of relief."
Carrick: Doherty, Chapman, Smyth, Gage, Edgar, McAllister, Taggart, Clarke (Morrow, 67 mins), Roy (Mooney, 59 mins), Maybin, Suarez (Green, 61 mins). Unused subs: Rice, Smith.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Marshall, Kelly (Lindsay, 90 mins), Doyle, Singleton, Clingan, Hall, Sykes, Daniels (Hamilton, 78 mins), Burns, Mitchell. Unused subs: Griffin, Patton, McGrory.
Man of the match: Sammy Clingan
Match rating: 6/10
Referee: Steven Gregg (Ballyclare)