COLERAINE suffered their first league defeat in 32 matches as Stephen Murray’s hat-trick helped guide Glenavon to all three points at The Showgrounds…
Coleraine slumped to their first home defeat since April 2017 against Glenavon following Saturday’s fixture at the Showgrounds.
Aaron Burns had given the Bannsiders the advantage but a hat-trick from Stephen Murray and a strike from Rhys Marshall secured victory for Gary Hamilton’s men.
After a slow start at the Showgrounds it was Glenavon with the opening chance. Forward Andrew Mitchell had a dangerous looking attempt from a 20 yard set piece but Coleraine defender Gareth McConaghie made a decisive clearance to deny any danger.
Coleraine responded via Darren McCauley who had an effort blocked inside the opening 10 minutes. The winner latched onto Chris Johns’ long ball before his attempt was blocked en-route to goal.
Andrew Hall and Stephen Murray had further chances for the Lurgan Blues, initially Hall fired narrowly over thecrossbar whilst Murray pulled his shot wide of the post.
The Bannsiders grabbed the lead on 24 minutes with their first meaningful chance of the match. Darren McCauley with some neat footwork outside the box allowing him the chance to cross where Aaron Burns was on hand to head home from close range.
Glenavon could have drawn level before the half hour mark. Andrew Hall’s dangerous cross looked certain to find Murray or Mitchell but they failed to capitalise from close range.
Coleraine turned defence into attack as Stephen Lowry’s clearance found the run of Jamie McGonigle. The striker cut inside from the wing before firing his shot towards goal, only to be denied by a great save from Jonny Tuffey.
Glenavon responded with two goals inside a minute to put Coleraine on the back foot. Rhys Marshall levelled proceedings after he capitalised on a week clearance from Chris Johns and tapped home from 6 yards.
Stephen Murray put Glenavon ahead almost immediately after the game restarted. The striker did well to get on the end of Andrew Hall’s cross and made no mistake from close range.
Glenavon could have gone further ahead before the interval as Mark Sykes put Andrew Mitchell through on, luckily for the home side Chris Johns narrowed the angle and made a superb save to deny a certain goal.
At half time Glenavon were deserving of their lead with Coleraine unable to cope with the visitors free flowing attacking football throughout the opening 45 minutes.
Coleraine threatened after the restart as Stephen Lowry’s cross found Ian Parkhill but his header flashed over.
Glenavon responded immediately as Andrew Mitchell held the ball up well inside the area before firing his effort into the side netting.
Ciaron Harkin threatened for Coleraine on 58 minutes as he got on the end of Darren McCauley’s cross but the midfielder fired his effort wide of the upright from the edge of the box.
The visitors extended their lead moments later as Stephen Murray made it 3-1 at the Showgrounds. Andrew Mitchell’s flick on sent Murray surging through on goal and the striker made no mistake with the finish.
Stephen Murray secured all 3 points for Glenavon and his third of the game on 68 minutes. The striker was given time and space to turn his man outside the area before slotting the ball into the bottom corner securing his second hat-trick of the 2018/19 campaign.
With little to report in the closing stages Glenavon remained in control and closed out the game for the three points. Glenavon remain top of the Danske Bank Premiership following Saturday’s win giving them a 4 point cushion at the summit from Linfield who have a game in hand.
COLERAINE: Johns, Harkin (McLaughlin ‘63 mins), McCauley, Lowry, McConaghie (Mullan ‘63 mins), Burns, O’Donnell, Parkhill, Traynor, McGonigle (Gawne ‘71 mins), Canning.
Subs not used: Doherty (GK), Douglas, Crown, Owens.
GLENAVON: Tuffey, King, Marron, Daniels, Marshall, Mitchell (Donnelly ‘79 mins), Sykes, Hall, Murray (Jenkins ‘87 mins), Singleton, Doherty (Grace ’84 mins).
Subs not used: Harmon, Larmour, McCloskey, Muir.
Referee: Evan Boyce