Crusaders spoiled the birthday celebrations of Glenavon’s James Singleton to take all three points with a 2-1 win in a lively game at Mourneview Park on Saturday.
Singleton, 20 today, had brought the Lurgan Blues back into the game when he levelled matters in the second half but just when it looked as if the home side would push on for the win Crusaders hit the front again with 16 minutes to go.
Glenavon applied early pressure winning two corners in succession in the first minute and they almost took the lead on five minutes when Kevin Braniff curled a shot inches wide after a lovely lay off from Joel Cooper.
There was another chance for Braniff a few minutes later after Josh Robinson crashed into Eoin Bradley but his free kick flew over the bar.
On 23 minutes Kris Lindsay had to come off for treatment after blood was streaming from above his right eye but he resumed after treatment.
The next 15 minutes was fairly quit but on 32 minutes Crusaders had a chance when the ball broke to Paul Heatley and his first time shot was well gathered by Tuffey.
Cooper did well to make progress into the box and whipped over a decent cross but no blue shirt was there to make the most of it. As Glenavon pressed Cooper was denied a clean shot on goal by Andy Mitchell.
On 44 minutes Tuffey produced a superb save with his legs to deny Jordan Owens who had got in behind to latch onto a great ball from Coates.
Crusaders edged ahead four minutes after the restart. Gavin Whyte got behind the home defence and crossed, Heatley connected well but his effort was blocked by Marshall, the ball broke kindly for Matthew Snoddy who drilled the ball home from 12 yards out.
Glenavon’s response was direct with Cooper nipping away from a defender and going for goal but O’Neill got down to make the save.
Then Cooper and Singleton linked up well to create another chance but Singleton’s angled shot flew well over the bar.
On 60 minutes David Elebert was forced to retire with a hamstring injury with Andy McGrory coming off the bench. Five minutes later and it was all square with Singelton ghosting in to clip home a low cross from Andy Hall. It was no more than the Lurgan Blues deserved as they battled back gamely after going behind.
On 71 minutes Hall did well to cut inside and got away a shot which O’Neill was in the right spot to gather.
It was all action now as Bradley was flagged offside when he looked well on, Crusaders hit on the counter with Jordan Forsythe bringing another super save out of Tuffey.
The Crues took the lead again on 76 minutes as sub Michael Carvill found space in the box to drill the ball in and his shot came off Kyle Neill on the line.
The Lurgan Blues were close to levelling for a second time as Hall broke clear and fed Bradley who in turn drilled a low cross to Braniff and his well struck shot was deflected for a corner.
That was the end of the chances for Glenavon and Crusaders saw out the game for a hard fought three points.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Neill, Lindsay, Marshall, Cooper, Bradley, Hall, Braniff, Elebert, Singleton. Subs: Patton, McGrory, O’Brien, Hamilton, Sykes.