Glenavon 3-3 Institute
FOR the second time in a matter of weeks, Glenavon and Institute played out an entertaining affair at Mourneview Park.
After a poor opening 30 minutes, this game really had everything, as Paddy McLaughlin's Institute side showed tremendous fighting spirit to come from 2-0 down at half-time to in the end deserve a share of the spoils.
Gary Hamilton will be fuming that his side were second best for parts after the break and failed to take clear cut chances at crucial stages in the game.
In fact but for 'Stute keeper Marty Gallagher making a super block on 49 minutes to deny Gary Muir, the home side would have ended the game as a contest, if that effort had gone in.
Muir and and Daniel Larmour came into the Lurgan Blues' starting line-up with Ben Doherty dropping to the bench and Caolan Marron missed out completely.
Institute were forced into one change to the side which defeated Ards on Boxing Day, with Stephen Curry replacing Caoimhin Bonner, who missed out after not recovering from a chest infection.
The first real effort came on 18 minutes when Muir latched onto Andrew Mitchell's through ball, but the left winger's low drive was kept out by Gallagher.
Moments later the visitors, who struggled in the early stages, had a good half chance but Michael McCrudden's left foot volley from around the penalty spot, flew well over the bar.
Glenavon took the lead on 35 minutes as Andrew Hall's dipping free-kick from 20 yards was parried away by Gallagher, Stephen Murray's clever clipped cross back into the six yard box was headed home by Rhys Marshall.
Gary Hamilton's side doubled their lead just before the break thanks to that man Marshall again.
This time striker Mitchell saw his left wing cross pick the defender out at the back post and he made no mistake heading home from close range.
Early in the second half Glenavon would have added a third but for a brave save by Gallagher, as the 'Stute keeper raced off his line to deny Muir, after Hall's run and cross from the right created the clear cut opening.
Institute pulled a goal back completely out of nothing on 55 minutes, but what a neat finish it was from Stephen Curry.
A long ball out of defence drew Glenavon keeper Johnny Tuffey out of his box and his headed clearance only fell to the winger, who coolly took a touch and from some 35 yards he guided the ball into the unguarded net.
Incredibly the visitors levelled things four minutes later as a clever pass by McCrudden released goalscorer Curry down the right his first time cross found Joe McCready and his miss hit effort fell perfectly for the 'Stute captain, who fired home his 16th league goal of the season.
Just after the hour mark Mitchell had a glorious chance to regain the lead for the home side but he headed wide at the back post, after Marshall's super right wing cross had picked out the front man.
Amazingly Institute took the lead themselves on 67 minutes as McCrudden's clever back-heel released Ronan Doherty, his low drive was superbly kept out by Tuffey, but Colm McLaughlin's follow-up shot took a slight deflection on the way into the net.
On 78 minutes the Mourneview Park men levelled things as a terrible back pass by 'Stute's Aaron Harkin only released Mitchell, who gleefully made no mistake, firing home past a dejected Gallagher.
Glenavon had strong claims for a penalty on 84 minutes after James Singleton went down inside the box, following Callum Moorehead's challenge, but referee Ian McNabb waved play on.
The woodwork came to 'Stute's rescue a minute later as Hall's right wing cross found substitute Jordan Jenkins, but his header came back off the crossbar.
In a crazy few minutes Paddy McLaughlin's side should have won the game Doherty's defensive splitting pass released McCrudden, but with only Tuffey to beat, the club's leading marksman was denied by a superb last ditch block by the back-tracking Marshall.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Marshall, King, Larmour (Jenkins 77), Singleton; Hall, Clingan (Harmon HT), Sykes, Muir (Doherty 65); Mitchell, Murray.
Institute: Gallagher, Jarvis, Scoltock, D Curry; S Curry (Moorehead 66), Wilson, Harkin, Doherty, McLaughlin; McCrudden, McCready (Morrow 89).
Referee: Ian McNabb