Sky jinx ends as derby spoils are shared

Glenavon v Portadown. Danske Premier League. 3rd Sept 2012.''Glenavon's Conor Hagan'celebrates after scoring to make it 1-1
Glenavon v Portadown. Danske Premier League. 3rd Sept 2012.''Glenavon's Conor Hagan'celebrates after scoring to make it 1-1

AT the fifth time of asking, Glenavon have finally broken their Sky Sports jinx after scoring their first goal and claiming their first point in front of the live cameras on Monday night.

The Blues had featured four times before live on Sky, lost four times and scored no goals until they secured a superb 2-2 draw against rivals Portadown at Mourneview Park.

The Ports had started the better side as Richard Lecky nodded the first chance straight into Andy Coleman’s arms and they got what was a deserved opener on 25 minutes. Glenavon were not at the races at this stage.

The otherwise impressive Guy Bates was dispossessed outside the Portadown penalty area and a swift break caught the Glenavon defence napping as a dagger of a through ball sliced through the middle of the back-line and set Keith O’Hara comfortably clear to finish easily past the exposed Andy Coleman.

However, the Blues soon got into the swing of things and managed to draw level just four minutes later. Kyle Neill’s fee-kick, one of many that tortured Portadown’s back-line, was flicked on by Conor Hagan and when it rebounded off the post, Richard Lecky and David Miskelly combined to bundle the ball over the line.

Andy Coleman had to be alert soon after the equaliser when play maker Kevin Braniff’s low shot tested the stopper after Ross Redman had be afforded too much space to gallop into Glenavon’s half.

As the game really livened up, Redman got back up the other end of the pitch and did enough to deny Gary Hamilton’s header, blocking the effort after Neill’s inch-perfect cross had picked out the forward at the far post.

It was an end to end type of game and that continued just before the break as the dangerous Braniff smashed a volley well off target before Guy Bates tested Miskelly, smashing an effort at the top corner and forcing a good save from the Ports keeper.

Portadown talisman Braniff had to be withdrawn with a hamstring injury just after the break, when Glenavon were putting in an impressive spell.

The lively Ciaran Doherty went on one of his mazy runs through the Portadown defence and teed up the outstanding Bates, who was again denied the goal he deserved as his shot was blocked.

Andy Coleman almost got involved in some goal-scoring action as his heavy touch on McCallion’s looping back-pass found Portadown sub Michael McLellan but the goalkeeper did extremely well to put in a great slide tackle and reclaim possession, denying what would have been a certain goal.

He was rewarded for his efforts as Glenavon went up the pitch and put in their best attacking spell of the game. First, Miskelly had to be alert to make a smart double save from Neill’s low free-kick and Brendan Shannon’s follow-up.

Bates was again denied soon after as he couldn’t poke the ball over the line from a goalmouth melee before another of Neill’s dangerous free-kicks caught the wind and almost caught out Miskelly, who had to back-peddle to tip it over the bar.

The Blues got the reward for their dominance on 73 minutes as Ciaran Doherty smashed home a great finish into the bottom corner after Hamilton had burst past Redman on the left wing and delivered a great ball in to the unmarked midfielder.

However, they couldn’t see out the victory as Portadown bagged an equaliser that really was against the run of play nine minutes later.

Joe McNeill hooked in a volley that took two wicked deflections and squirmed past Andy Coleman to deny the Blues their first victory of the season.

There had been calls for a foul on Conor Hagan in the build-up, but with Portadown having earlier seen a goal harshly denied, the decisions evened themselves out on the night.

Regardless of the disappointing equaliser, it was a promising display from the home side and the challenge now is to match that display in their upcoming games and install a level of consistency at Mourneview Park.