Glenavon’s hopes of making a winning start to the season were dashed by Cliftonville who claimed all three points with a 1-0 win at Mourneview Park on Saturday.
The Reds showed their is life after goal scoring sensation Joe Gormley and avenged their last visit to Lurgan when they lost 5-0.
Glenavon were unfortunate not to take something from the game, twice going close in the second half as they had a go in what was a closely fought 90 minutes.
Kevin Braniff had a chance to test Reds keeper Peter Burke on eight minutes with a free kick but his effort scuffed off the wall and was gathered by the keeper.
The Reds responded with Chris Curran finding space outside the box to collect a corner but he lifted his shot over the bar.
Glenavon were enjoying a good period of the game at this stage and it was Braniff who almost found an opening on 18 minutes as he fizzed a low drive just wide of the Reds goal.
Keeping clean sheets was a big target for manager Gary Hamilton this season but after 21 minutes they conceded their first goal. Conor Dillon lost possession in Cliftonville’s half, the ball fell to Jay Donnelly who broke into the box and although Johnny Tuffey did well to save his shot the ball flew onto the inrushing David McDaid and into the net.
Glenavon tried to carve out an opening in the remainder of the half but they only had a weak shot from Eoin Bradley straight at the keeper.
Andy Kilmartin replaced Kyle Neill at the start of the second half but it was the Reds who almost doubled their lead when McDaid drilled a low shot which Tuffey did well to hold. The Glenavon keeper was called into action again to tip over a shot from James Knowles.
A double substitution on 63 minutes saw Gary Hamilton and Joel Cooper replace Bradley and Sykes and it injected more life up front and the home side were unlucky not to draw level on 68 minutes. Cooper won the corner, Hamilton swung it in and Marshall’s header was cleared off the line by Martin Donnelly.
Patton did well to carve out the next chance as he created space on the right flank, but his low cross was cut out by the keeper. It was end to end stuff as Curran’s half volley was well marshalled by Tuffey and then Burke had to be at his best to tip over a goalbound shot from Braniff.
Cooper collided with the post as he tried to nod in a looping cross from Hamilton and as the home side pressed hard the visitors could have added to their lead.
In the end a home defeat but some encouraging signs for Glenavon with goalkeeper Johnny Tuffey earning the man of the match award and Joel Cooper showing up well when he came on.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Neill, Kelly, Dillon, Lindsay, Marshall, Bradley, Patton, Sykes, Caldwell, Braniff.
Subs: Kilmartin, Cooper, Hall, Hamilton, Burns.