Ten man Blues push Reds all the way

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Ten man Glenavon pushed champions Cliftonville all the way in an all action affair before going down 3-1 at Mourneview Park.

The scoreline hardly reflects the efforts of the Lurgan Blues, the champions sealing the win in the 91st minute.

Gary Hamilton celebrates scoring against Cliftonville during the Danske Bank Premiership game at Mourneview Park.

Gary Hamilton celebrates scoring against Cliftonville during the Danske Bank Premiership game at Mourneview Park.

Glenavon could not have hoped for a better start when they stunned the visitors with a goal on 37 seconds. Gareth McKeown took the throw-in and when the ball fell to Gary Hamilton his snapshot clipped off defender Johnny Flynn and into the net.

Cliftonville responded with David McDaid breaking into the box but Alan Blayney did well to boot away his low cross.

On 11 minutes Glenavon went close again with Ciaran Caldwell picking out McGrory his cross was headed by Hamilton but Devlin got in to make the save ahead of Martyn.

A minute later and Hamilton almost threaded a great ball into McGrory but Flynn had spotted the danger.

The next chance also fell to the home team with Martyn rolling the ball to Neill and his piledriver was deflected for a corner.

Then disaster for Glenavon with William Murphy shown a straight red as he made a two-footed challenge, He won the ball cleanly but ref Raymond Crangle deemed his actions dangerous and produced the red.

From the resultant free kick Donnelly’s goalbound effort was tipped away by Blayney.

Seven minutes later and it was all square with lethal striker Joe Gormley firing home after McDaid worked his way across the six yard box.

Cliftonville began to look more dangerous especially with the extra man but it was the home side who should have edged ahead again on 44 minutes. The midfielder gathered the ball and beat two markers before hitting a great shot which flew over the bar.

Right on the stroke of half-time Cliftonville took the lead when Donnelly’s corner fell to McDaid, his shot was blocked but the rebound fell kindly to Garrett who quickly dispatched the ball home.

Hamilton had a great chance to restore parity on 54 minutes when a long clearance by Blayney was flicked on by Martyn but the player manager’s shot went straight at the keeper.

The Reds had a let-off two minutes later when Hamilton slipped the ball to Caldwell, his shot was blocked, McGrory then drilled a shot past Devlin but the ball came back off the post and then Neill lifted the ball high over the bar.

Glenavon were enjoying a good period of pressure but Dillon was forced to clear off the line from a Smyth header.

From the counter attack Hamilton did well to hold up play and then found Caldwell who let fly from 25 yards out but Devlin tipped his well struck effort over the bar.

It was end to end stuff at times with Martyn, despite falling backwards, clearing a shot from Smyth off the line and then Hamilton tried a spectacular volley but the ball sliced high and wide.

Gormley had a great chance on 74 minutes but in trying to lob Blayney he played it straight into his hands.

With six minutes left Glenavon carved out another chance when Hamilton sent McGory clear, his low cross flashed across the face of goal but non-one was there to get the vital touch.

The home side battled tot he end to try and find a way through but their fight ended in the first minute of added time when Garrett’s shot flashed into the net off Marshall.

Glenavon: Blayney, McKeown, Neill, Murphy, Hamilton, Dillon, Caldwell, McGrory, Marshall, McCabe, Martyn.

Subs: Lindsay, Kilmartin, McNally, Hoey, McKendry.