The good, the bad and the ugly of Glenavon's win over Cliftonville
Glenavon have gone under the radar with a fine start to their Danske Bank Premiership campaign.
They're up in fourth place, five points behind Coleraine and continued their form with a 3-1 win over Cliftonville. Here's my take on the big game at Mourneview Park.
Simply put, he's a striker's dream. It's nothing we didn't know before but Andy Hall continues to be a player that receives little of the wider acclaim he is due. Few players in the league create as many goals as this man - and his curling cross for Mark Griffin's strike showed just why. Griffin could hardly have missed that chance as it arrived on a plate and all buttered up.
The assist for the opener wasn't as spectacular but with Hall there to provide through balls for a man like Andrew Mitchell, Glenavon will not be able to help but score plenty of goals this season.
Young and Old
Mark Sykes and Sammy Clingan are forging a flourishing partnership in central midfield for the Lurgan Blues. That continued against the Reds, the pair pulling the strings that made Glenavon dance.
Sykes has long been tipped as a future star, either of the Irish League or moving on to bigger and better things. And this could be the campaign in which he really begins to fulfill all of that promise, helped in no small part by the former international alongside him. Clingan still oozes class and is audibly guiding the young player beside him through matches. If he can avoid injury, Clingan could turn out to be one of the signings of the season.
The performance of the Cliftonville collective has to fall neatly into this category. From the line-up to the actual display on the pitch, it looked anything like the real Reds.
Cliftonville's attacking options are fearsome - there's little doubt about that. But when they're all thrown onto the pitch, whether the position suits or not, it's a recipe for disaster. Jay Donnelly partnered Joe Gormley up top but with Rory Donnelly (CM) and Daniel Hughes (LM) both shoehorned into midfield in a makeshift 4-4-2, it was a case of too many cooks. And the broth was proper minging.
With a winger like Martin Donnelly and a central midfield player like Ciaran Caldwell on the bench, such a selection is unforced. Neither does it do any favours to Gormley and Jay up top, who are denied service, nor to Daniel Hughes on the left flank or Rory Donnelly in central midfield. Let's not forget that Rory is attempting to get back into regular football after a topsy-turvy spell in England. Playing him out of position in central midfield is certainly not going to help.
Football is about playing your best team - not your best players. And at Mourneview Park, I'm not sure Cliftonville did that.
Giving the first half a yellow card
With seven yellow cards during a vicious first half - it was a feisty affair at Mourneview Park. Aaron Donnelly, Garry Breen, Liam Bagnall and Thomas Cosgrove for the Reds, nor Bobby Burns or Andrew Mitchell for the hosts could even complain.
However, Arnold Hunter's decision to book Sammy Clingan was puzzling. It was amidst the melee that followed Bagnall's booking for an x-rated challenge. Breen then had Clingan round the neck. The Glenavon midfielder reacted, of course, but not in any way that indicated a booking was required.
Belfast Telegraph Digital