Innes' late strike flatters Kilmarnock

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The Independent Football

Glenavon 0 Kilmarnock 1

Kilmarnock narrowly avoided the indignity of being held to a goalless draw last night by Irish part-timers whose domestic season has yet to start. Only seconds of time added on remained when the central defender Chris Innes earned the Scots a first-leg lead in their Uefa Cup qualifying tie here.

Innes, whose main claim to fame to date this season was as the unfortunate victim of John Hartson's first brutal challenge on Celtic's behalf last Saturday, rose unmarked to head in a free-kick from Gary Hay.

It was a goal that Kilmarnock barely deserved despite their earlier dominance. "Irish teams never make it easy for you,'' said the visiting manager, Bobby Williamson. His side had been frustrated at almost every turn by Glenavon, who had opened their new Glenfield Road stand, filling most of it with the noisy travelling contingent.

The comfortable victory they had anticipated was never going to happen. Glenavon's defending was diligent, even audacious at times, such as when Johnny Montgomery curled a pass to the opposite flank of the back four with the outside of his boot.

The hosts, operating with two lines of four, condensed between an able sweeper, Johnny Wright, and an on-loan striker, Dean Smith (who was replacing the injured Gary McKinstry) restricted their opponents to a handful of chances. The debut-making Frenchman David Merdy screwed one effort past an upright and sliced another wide. It was surely more a case of "merde'' when Merdy's wayward header then initiated a Glenavon break, ending with Smith's unsuccessful far-post lunge. Soon after Merdy was, not surprisingly, replaced by his fellow Frenchman Christophe Cocard, who fared little better.

Michel Ngongé emphasised Kilmarnock's impatience by blazing over before seeing Stuart Addis arch backwards to tip his hooked shot on to the bar and over. Addis later dropped a cross but then blocked Peter Canero's point-blank follow-up. When Ngongé then headed wide and Sean Collins denied James Fowler with an imperious tackle, it seemed that Glenavon would go to Rugby Park on level terms in two weeks' time. It was not quite to be.

Glenavon: Addis; Wright, Collins, Montgomery, Rafferty (O'Kane, 74), Mallon, Keegan (Campbell, 72), McAree, McMahon, McCann, Smith (Forker, 75). Substitutes not used: McCombe (gk), Hill, Riches, Kane.

Kilmarnock: Marshall; Canero, Innes, Dindeleux, Hay, McLaren (Fowler, 79), Mahood, Calderon (Pizzo, 65), Mitchell, Merdy (Cocard, 57), Ngongé. Substitutes not used: Meldrum (gk), Reilly, Hessy, Fowler, Di Giacomo.

Referee: J Maisonlahti (Finland).