Glenavon produced a battling display to secure a huge three points with a 2-0 win over Coleraine on Saturday.
The victory moves Glenavon to within two points of the Bannsiders.
It was not going to be a day for pretty football and after a tough first 45 minutes Gary Hamilton’s side came through to clinch a crucial victory.
With little happening in the early stages suddenly Coleraine came to life as Sammy Morrow played Ruairi Harkin into space and his well struck shot was tipped over the bar by Jonny Tuffey. This good spell for the home team continued as Jamie McGonigle turned his marker but with only Tuffey facing him he scuffed his shot from just inside the box.
Glenavon had to work hard to get into the game and they started to put some pressure on the home defence with Joel Cooper having a shot blocked and then Simon Kelly rose high to direct a Kyle Neill cross onto the bar.
Both teams did struggle to play on the heavy pitch and as a result the ball was in the air more than they would have liked.
A spell of Glenavon pressure saw them win a corner from which the ball broke kindly for Andy Hall who had time to size up a shot but when it came he was well off target.
Five minutes before the break Glenavon created a lovely flowing move started by Joel Cooper who linked up with Andy Kilmartin who fed Daniel Kearns but his goalbound shot was deflected away for a corner.
The heavy rain greeted the players at the start of the second half and once again Coleraine started the better with Tuffey forced to come out and punch clear and a minute later he dived to his left to keep out a fine shot from Morrow.
The vital breakthrough came on 51 minutes with Neill’s inswinging corner causing problems and Marshall got the vital touch to guide the ball over the line.
Coleraine went with another striker up front and they came close when Brown drilled a low shot just wide of Tuffey’s right post.
However, that gave Bradley, Cooper and Hall the chance to make ground and they tried hard to carve out a second goal.
On 75 minutes Glenavon did double their lead. They won a free kick which Hall curled into the box and it came off Coleraine’s Morrow and flew into the net.
The home side were reduced to ten men on 79 minutes when Howard Beverland clipped Cooper to earn a second yellow.
Glenavon kept pressing and were unlucky not to score a third when a lovely switch pass from Kearns teed up Hall whose curling shot hit the bar and bounced clear.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Neill, Marshall, Kelly, Lindsay, Kilmartin, Sykes, Hall, Cooper, Kearns, Bradley.
Subs: Braniff, McGrory, Patton, Dillon, Hamilton.