Irish Premiership: Linfield progress stalls with 1-0 loss to Glenavon

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Dogged Glenavon see off Linfield

Linfield have lost ground in the Irish Premiership title race after Robbie Garrett's deflected strike earned Glenavon a 1-0 win at Mourneview Park.

Garrett's 28th-minute shot ricocheted off Blues defender Jimmy Callacher for the game's only goal.

Linfield had several goalscoring chances but were denied by an inspired Jonny Tuffey in the Glenavon goal.

The Blues remain seven points adrift of leaders Cliftonville in fourth place while Glenavon move up to ninth.

Linfield will feel they should have scored during an entertaining opening 45 minutes which presented both sides with chances.

Shayne Lavery, not long back from Northern Ireland duty in Frankfurt, got the better of cut inside and shot wide with a left-footed effort after just five minutes.

Glenavon, playing with the freedom and invention that has been absent from their play for most of this season, caused the Linfield back four plenty of problems.

One of the first-half's best moments came when player-manager Gary Hamilton flicked a delightful first-time pass around the corner to release the adventurous Kyle Beggs down the right flank.

Glenavon moved up to ninth place after securing only their fourth win of the season
Glenavon moved up to ninth place after securing only their fourth win of the season

Josh Daniels curled a right-footed effort just beyond Rohan Ferguson's left-hand post before the Blues stopper denied Garrett and Hamilton with a razor-sharp double-save.

But even with his impressive flexes, the young Scot was left helpless a few minutes later as Callacher's attempt to stop Garrett's goal-bound effort resulted in the opening goal.

Linfield were architects of their own downfall. Callacher took too long as he tried to run out from defence, allowing Andrew Mitchell to challenge.

From there, Glenavon built their attack and punished the visitors when Mitchell teed up Garrett, whose first-time right-footed effort from distance took a wicked deflection off Callacher and past Ferguson.

Linfield responded strongly and should have been level just two minutes later when Lavery headed over from three yards after jumping to meet Bastien Hery's flick-on from a corner.

Having helped create the goal, Mitchell should have struck his fifth league goal of the season but blazed his left-footed shot well over the bar after some fine work from Rhys Marshall.

Linfield were less than pleased that referee Andrew Davey failed to brandish a yellow card to Garrett for two separate incidents.

The former Blues midfielder used his arm to stop a Linfield counter and also could have been booked for a late challenge on Jamie Mulgrew.

David Healy changed things at the interval, replacing Mark Stafford with Andrew Waterworth, but even with the experienced striker's presence up top, the visitors were left frustrated by Jonny Tuffey's heroics in the Glenavon goal.

The former Northern Ireland international got a strong right glove to beat away Callacher's towering header before diving to his left to turn Hery's effort around the post.

It's a momentum-stalling defeat for Linfield but a massive three points for Hamilton's side, who secured only their fourth win of the season - and exacted revenge for their 7-0 drubbing at the hands of the champions in September.