Despite a spirited fight back to draw level from two goals down, Glenavon were beaten 5-2 by champions Cliftonville on Tuesday at Mourneview Park.
A brace from Joe Gormley inside the opening 10 minutes had the Reds surging ahead but goals from Andy McGrory and Ciaran Martyn either side of half time pegged them back to two each.
However, the Reds went up a gear and late strikes from Martin Murray, Ryan Catney and former Blue Ciaran Doherty stretched their unbeaten league run to 13.
Gormley’s opening goals weren’t the most difficult he’ll ever score, thanks to a missing Blues’ defence. The first, on eight minutes, came from a through ball by Barry Johnston. Glenavon’s back-line seemed to stand in awe as Gormley strode through to stroke home his 26th of the season.
Two minutes later he struck again, this time Boyce nodded a header over the defence and Gormley cashed in.
That seemed to spark the rusty home side into belated action. Ciaran Martyn fired in a warning shot that was beaten away by Conor Devlin. There was little the keeper could do on the half-hour mark when the Martyn teed up an unmarked McGrory to smash into the bottom corner.
Gormley really should have restored his side’s advantage and completed his hat-trick before the break but this time it was the impressive Andy Coleman who came out on top.
Gormley did have the Glenavon stopper beaten again but somehow he scooped Boyce’s cross over the bar. It would have been easier to score.
Ciaran Martyn reminded him how to do just that after the re-start. Glenavon’s man of the match Shane McCabe drilled in a superb through ball to set his midfield partner away and he clipped a superb finish over Devlin’s head to level the scores.
The Blues were preparing to bring on Guy Bates as they looked capable of mounting a serious bid to take all three points.
However, Cliftonville stepped up a gear and blew the Blues out of the water. Martin Murray restored the lead after Gormley raced away from Glenavon’s defence and unselfishly squared the ball.
Ryan Catney then put the game beyond the hosts with five minutes left. Sub Chris Curran did well to jink past McGrory and set up the midfielder for the finish.
There was still time for Ciaran Doherty to fire past his perhaps harshly done-by former side, who remain five points adrift of the top six, although they do have two games in hand on sixth-placed Ballymena.
GLENAVON: Coleman, Neill, Murphy, McKeown (McCallion 78), Marshall, Patton, Martyn, McCabe, McGrory, Hamilton (McIlveen 87), Rainey (Bates 70).
Unused Subs: Lindsay, Kilmartin.
CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, Seydak, Smyth, McGovern, R. Scannell, Donnelly (Curran 68), Catney, Johnston, Murray (Doherty 73), Boyce (McMullan 87), Gormley.
Unused Subs: O’Carroll, Cosgrove.