By Jana McCabe
In this penultimate game of September, Ards looked to continue Sam Johnston’s five-game run of clean sheets, as well as their six-game unbeaten run. Callum Byers led the home side, with David McAllister returning to the starting eleven.
In the third minute, Stephen Murray’s pass from the left hand side just failed to find Andrew Mitchell for the visitors. The first chance for the home side arrived in the eighth minute when Josh Kelly’s shot sailed past the right hand post.
In the tenth minute a controversial penalty was awarded to Glenavon when Josh Kelly was penalised for his attempted tackle on the dangerous Josh Daniels. Stephen Murray’s spot-kick found the bottom left corner to put Glenavon 1-0 up, ending Sam Johnston’s impressive run of clean sheets.
Ards immediately pressed for an equaliser when a lovely David McAllister cross connected with the head of Mark Kelly, but the front-man’s header was saved by the visitors’ ‘keeper Jonathan Tuffey.
In the eighteenth minute a long ball from Michael Kerr was flicked on by the head of Mark Kelly to Ryan Strain and the youngster - making his home debut - did well to turn and trick the Glenavon defence but his resulting shot was wide. Good interchange between Johnny Taylor and McAllister then forced a corner, but Mark Kelly’s header was just wide in the twenty ninth minute as Ards continued to press for an equaliser.
Rhys Marshall then did well to clear Josh Kelly’s curling shot in the thirty seventh minute. In first half injury time Johnny Taylor produced a superb tackle to deny Glenavon a clear goal-scoring opportunity, with the half ending 0-1.
In the opening moments of the second half Jonah Mitchell lost possession before skilfully regaining it but his pass couldn’t be controlled by Mark Kelly. Josh Daniels’ acrobatic shot from Mark Sykes’s pass then skimmed over the bar in the forty ninth minute. Sykes then had his own shooting opportunity but his chance found the side netting in the fifty third minute.
On the hour mark, Jonah Mitchell’s curling header was just over the bar as both teams continued to press for a goal. Substitute Michael McLellan’s downwards header couldn’t be controlled by the busy Jonah Mitchell in the sixty fifty minute.
However Glenavon scored their second in the seventy fourth minute when Gary Muir’s long ball found Andrew Mitchell who tricked Taylor and stayed calm with his powerful shot finding the top left corner of the net to make it 0-2.
Glenavon nearly got a third but a smart save from Johnston and two crucial challenges from Kerr made sure that the game ended 0-2. Johnny Taylor received the Man Of The Match award for the home side after another strong performance.
Ards’ first defeat since 18th August means that they remain in tenth position, with Glenavon going top of the table, one point ahead of Linfield. Ards travel to Solitude on Saturday where they face a tough game versus Cliftonville.
Starting 11- Sam Johnston, Michael Kerr, Johnny Taylor, Callum Byers, Craig McClean, Ryan Strain, Josh Kelly, Kym Nelson, David McAllister, Jonah Mitchell and Mark Kelly
Used substitutes- Michael McLellan (for Mark Kelly) and Scott McArthur (for David McAllister).
Unused substitutes- Jason Mooney, Kyle Cherry, Gareth Tommons, Adam McAleenan and Aaron Boyd.