CONOR Hagan’s sending off stole the headlines and all of the excitement from the Mid-Ulster Boxing Day derby which Portadown won 2-0.
Referee Ross Dunlop’s controversial decision to send off Conor Hagan, having ignored a foul on Kris Lindsay in the build-up all but handed the three points to Portadown.
Up until then the game had been end to end. Both sides had chances to open the scoring and, to make things worse for Blues’ fans, Glenavon had arguably been the better side having seen two goals ruled out for offside.
After going down to 10 men the Lurgan Blues failed to adapt and it appeared only a matter of time until they went behind, even when Andy Coleman saved the penalty that resulted from Hagan’s sending off.
Goals from Ross Redman and Richard Lecky were enough to win it for the Ports in the end but had decisions gone the other way, it could have been very different.
Glenavon had begun the game brightly and Guy Bates did well to tuck the ball past David Miskelly on six minutes only to be thwarted by the offside flag.
After Conor Hagan had made a great tackle to deny Ross Redman in a rare Portadown break, the Blues again had the ball in the net. Ciaran Martyn’s follow up on Andy Kilmartin’s parried shot however also fell victim to the linesman’s eager flag.
Andy McGrory missed a good chance shortly after, shooting straight at Miskelly when well placed at the back post. Sean Mackle then missed an even better opportunity at the other end, firing wide after getting through one-on-one.
However, unlike Glenavon’s, his missed effort wasn’t to matter. Conor Hagan was soon given his marching orders for a foul in the box and that was the beginning of the end for the visitors.
Andy Coleman did give them one last hurrah as he stopped Neil McCafferty’s spot-kick but he could do little to deny Ross Redman, who slid the ball home to give Portadown a 42nd minute lead.
After the break, the game was put beyond all doubt when Redman found acres of space on the left and crossed to Lecky, who couldn’t miss from a yard out.
Guy Bates did try to reduce the deficit soon after but his long range effort drifted narrowly wide.
The Ports were in cruise control after that. Glenavon huffed and puffed but never looked close to blowing their opponents’ defence down.
Efforts at goal were few and far between as Kevin Braniff blasted over for Portadown while Guy Bates and Marc Brown could force only routine saves from Miskelly. The game had been over as a contest since the second goal and the fans knew it. In fact, by the time Glenavon created a couple of late chances, there were few supporters of either team left to see them.
Guy Bates was first played in by Hamilton but couldn’t keep his shot under the bar before Andy McGrory could only curl his effort wide of the far post.
The final whistle greeted cheers from the section of Portadown fans who had stayed to the end and boos from the visiting support. The jeers weren’t for their own side, but for the match officials whose decisions, be they right or wrong, had well and truly ruined the spectacle for both sets of supporters.