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McCloskey targets top six place for Glenavon

Crusaders 0 Glenavon 1

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Big finish: Conor McCloskey (right) celebrates his late winner with team-mates at Seaview

Big finish: Conor McCloskey (right) celebrates his late winner with team-mates at Seaview

Inpho / Stephen Hamilton

Aidan Wilson

Aidan Wilson

Inpho / Stephen Hamilton

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Big finish: Conor McCloskey (right) celebrates his late winner with team-mates at Seaview

Glenavon's man for the big occasion Conor McCloskey says his side are on the charge.

The midfielder's thunderbolt in the 90th minute floored 10-man Crusaders and now the top six is in their sights.

In fact, if Gary Hamilton's men win their two games in hand over the Crues they will be level with the Shore Road side who have slid down to fifth.

Just when the north Belfast side thought they were going to settle for a point after centre-back Aidan Wilson's sending off at the start of the second half, McCloskey cut inside and powered a sensational strike low past Jonny Tuffey.

A largely uneventful contest sprung to life in the closing stages and keeper Craig Hyland prevented an equaliser in stoppage time by superbly tipping Chris Hegarty's header over the top.

Wilson was sent off at the start of the second half after being shown a second yellow card for a tackle on Daniel Purkis. Towards the end of the first half he was booked following a clash with Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Glenavon applied pressure without causing too many alarms until McCloskey's stunning strike.

"I like the left wing and when I can drift inside," he said. "Jordan (Forsythe) has been brilliant for the Crues but he's not naturally a full-back and I wanted to get at him.

"I went past him and when the defender didn't come towards me, I took a touch and when it opened up for me there was only one thing I was going to do and thankfully it went in.

"We have been down to 10 men and under the cosh, it's hard to break down 10 men as they sit it.

"We had to keep pressing and trying. I felt we deserved the win.

"I know the Crues find it hard at Mourneview and I wasn't aware of their strong record against us at Seaview (one defeat in the previous 10 games) but with no crowd there's no pressure on us as an opposing team.

"We've been flying, that's 13 out of 15 points so we were confident of getting a result and didn't expect anything else.

"I tried a volley five minutes earlier and didn't catch it sweetly, I wanted to take the next chance and for a change it didn't go over the stand."

Crusaders, with just two wins in their last nine outings, are licking their wounds but they need to raise their game and come out fighting.

The players got involved in a heated debate in their makeshift changing area in the Roy McDonald Centre after the game with manager Stephen Baxter admitting he had to step in and bring the temperature down.

It's a passionate game and you would expect players to be frustrated but whatever passion they have needs to be challenged into producing strong performances.

"Frustration sets in but I felt we could have got a point, it was a wonder goal that took the game away from us," said Baxter.

Crusaders: Tuffey, Burns, Hegarty, Wilson, Weir (Caddell 74), Lowry, Forsythe, O'Rourke, Owens (Lecky 78), Heatley, McGinley (Kennedy 85). Subs not used: Shields, McGonigle, Cushley, Larmour.

Glenavon: Hyland, Coates, A Doyle, Purkis (McCaffrey 61), Campbell (O'Mahony 85), Hall, Fitzpatrick (J Doyle 74), McCloskey, Singleton, Garrett, Ward. Subs not used: Byrne, Harmon, Douglas, McNulty.

Referee: Chris Morrison

Man of match: Andrew Doyle

Match rating: 6/10.

Belfast Telegraph


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