GLENAVON 1 COLERAINE 1
GLENAVON could have been out of sight at half-time on Saturday afternoon.
However, they were lucky not to concede more than one in the second half and they earned a fair 1-1 draw at home to Coleraine.
The Blues went 1-0 ahead on just 11 minutes through a smashing Brendan Shannon strike - only his third goal for the club. That should have sprung Glenavon on to further goals as they dominated the first half but missed chances and great saves from Michael Doherty ensured the Bannsiders were never far from being back into the game.
After the break, they soon showed just why they are in the top six as they deservedly levelled through a Gareth Tommons tap in and would have won it but for an inspired performance from Davy O’Hare in the Glenavon goal.
O’Hare had little to do in the first half though as the Blues dominated and Shannon’s opener was almost worth the entry fee in itself. Mark Haughey’s long ball forward found the skipper 25 yards from goal and he smashed an unbelievable volley past a stunned Doherty and into the net – a truly fantastic finish.
On another day, striker Mark Farren would surely have extended his side’s advantage but he couldn’t find his way past Doherty despite getting into a few good positions. Ten minutes after the goal, Ciaran Martyn played in Farren and, in acres of space, he looked odds on to score but Doherty stretched out a foot to tip his shot past the post.
A neat one-two between Farren and Bates, including a clever backheel by the latter, set Farren away once again. He did well to hold off Howard Beverland but again couldn’t get the better of Doherty.
Grant Gardiner’s in-swinging corner then looked to be going straight into the net but for a goal-saving defensive header off the goal-line.
Coleraine did have a few brief forays forward and Curtis Allen curled a delicious effort off the apex of the goal-frame from wide on the right wing.
After the break, the Bannsiders really got into the swing of things and looked a totally different animal. They equalised just six minutes into the half, although it wasn’t as spectacular as Glenavon’s goal. Jamie Tomelty rifled in a shot that O’Hare did well to push onto the bar but Gareth Tommons was first to react and he bundled the rebound over the line.
Eye-catching substitute Ruairi Harkin then really took the game to Glenavon and looked to drive Coleraine on to victory. He tested Davy O’Hare, as did Stephen Lowry. If Farren was having an off-day in front of goal for Glenavon, lady luck certainly wasn’t doing any favours for Curtis Allen either.
He burst through on goal after Mark Haughey’s clearance rebounded wickedly of Lowry and fell for the striker but his shot rolled agonisingly wide of goal. Another ricochet made Davy O’Hare sweat again soon after, this time Mark Turkington’s clearance smashing off Allen and falling just over the crossbar.
Gary Hamilton then brought himself on and certainly added another dimension to his side’s attack. It was his cross that dipped across goal and came just inches from setting up both Ciaran Martyn and Mark Haughey, neither of whom could quite stretch to tip it over the line.
Martyn did get in a shot in the final minute but again Doherty came out on top and Coleraine raced up the pitch to spurn one final chance to win the game. Ruairi Harkin’s cross found David Scullion and he got a shot on target but the outstanding Mark Turkington managed to get in a block.
The result brings Glenavon a point closer to mathematical safety as they currently sit nine points ahead of Donegal Celtic, who are in the play-off spot, with just five games left to play.
GLENAVON: O’Hare, Shannon, Haughey, McCallion, Turkington, Brown, Kilmartin, Gardiner (McGrory 59), Martyn, Farren, Bates (Hamilton 76). Unused Subs: Doherty, Hagan, Dane.
COLERAINE: M Doherty, Beverland, Hegarty, Ogilby (c), Scullion, Lowry, Allen, McIlmoyle, Canning, Tommons (Harkin 57), Tomelty (Owens 77). Unused Subs: McVey, Bradley, Owens. Cautions: Beverland, Hegarty.