IRISH LEAGUE: O’Neill the hero again for Crues

Sean O'Neill was the hero again for Crusaders. Photograph by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye
Sean O'Neill was the hero again for Crusaders. Photograph by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

There was de ja vu for Crusaders goalkeeper Sean O’Neill as another last gasp penalty save earned his side a result on Tuesday evening.

After his late stop helped the champions to beat Coleraine on Saturday, he again came up trumps at Mourneview Park to help his side to a 3-3 draw against Glenavon.

In what was another frantic end to the game, Eoin Bradley saw his injury-time penalty blocked by the heroic stopper as his side spurned another two goal lead for the second time in two matches - all just seconds after Kris Lindsay had seen red.

That came as Glenavon had been denied what looked a stonewall penalty when Andy Hall had been hauled down.

“I think we deserved to win,” said Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton. “I think anybody will agree with that. Decisions went against us again. People can see it with their own two eyes. (Crusaders’) third goal as well was a throw-in for us (in the build-up). They say it evens itself out but at Mourneview, it doesn’t seem like that.”

A David Elebert double and a Rhys Marshall header has seen Glenavon go 3-1 ahead but Paul Heatley’s brace and a goal from Jordan Owens combined to earn a draw that sees the Crues four points clear at the top of the table.

Crusaders took an early lead on 14 minutes when Jordan Owens flicked the ball through for Heatley to chip a superb finish past Johnny Tuffey.

Glenavon felt there was more than a touch of offside about the winger’s 10th league goal of the season and responded in perfect fashion - turning the game on its head to lead 2-1 at half-time.

The Lurgan Blues have been known as set-piece specialists - but rarely when Andy Hall isn’t on the pitch.

He had a more than able deputy on Tuesday evening as Kyle Neill filled the void and provided two first class deliveries.

The first came 20 minutes in when Neill’s free-kick from wide on the right landed on the head of Elebert for his first goal of the season.

The second, although it was from a corner, was something remarkably similar. This time it was Rhys Marshall who benefitted, bundling the ball over the line at the back post.

On the stroke of half-time, Heatley threatened to level, turning Doyle superbly before rolling a shot narrowly wide.

A moment of magic from Mark Sykes delivered another simple finish for Elebert and an unlikely brace for the centre-back on 50 minutes.

The young midfielder was quick to seize on a Sean O’Neill throw-out, ghosted past the Crues’ defence and squared for Elebert to slam home.

But Heatley made it 3-2 just two minutes later and the Crues were level on 87 when Owens bundled home after a goalmouth scramble.

The late drama followed as first Glenavon were denied what looked a stonewall penalty as Andy Hall was brought down, then Eoin Bradley missed the spot-kick that he won himself.

More thrills at Mourneview - Glenavon stay sixth.

GLENAVON: Tuffey. Neill (Hall 80), Lindsay, Marshall, Bradley, Patton (Cooper 55), Sykes, Moorhouse, McCourt, Martyn, Elebert.

Subs: Kilmartin, Doyle, Braniff.

CRUSADERS: O’Neill, BJ Burns, Beverland, Gault (Clarke 75), Mitchell (McClean 75), Carvill (Cushley 68), Forsythe, Owens, Heatley, Whyte, Coates.

Unused Subs: Soares, Dougherty.

Ref: Raymond Hetherington