Honours even as Glenavon secure point with Glentoran despite Rhys Marshall red

Glentoran and Glenavon players clash after Rhys Marshall's tackle on Glentoran's Joe Crowe during this evening's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Glentoran and Glenavon players clash after Rhys Marshall's tackle on Glentoran's Joe Crowe during this evening's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

With the summer wait over, Irish League football returned in style under the Mourneview Park floodlights by serving up the first goal, first red card - and first point as Glenavon and Glentoran shared the spoils.

Glenavon’s first half featured setbacks across both the opening and closing stages when Darren Murray broke the deadlock with the first goal of the Danske Bank Premiership campaign then Rhys Marshall saw red.

Glentoran may have hit the half-time interval with a numerical advantage but it was honours even across the scoresheet after Sammy Clingan delivered an equaliser off a deflected free-kick.

That home boost capped a vibrant opening 14 minutes that sparked into life initially with a weaving run by Conor McCloskey across the edge of the area before a shot which Marijan Antolovic managed to gather.

The top flight’s first goal then proved a top-class move as John Herron picked up possession wide on the left and attacked the home danger area at pace before slipping a pass into the path of Murray for the striker to slot home with a composed finish.

It proved the end product to some positive play by the Glens during a slick start.

However, Murray’s strike marked the only reward and Glenavon got back on level terms on 14 minutes.

A foul on Jordan Jenkins outside the area resulted in a booking for Calum Birney and Glentoran’s problems increased as Clingan stepped up to curl a free-kick which found a path past Croatian goalkeeper Antolovic off a deflection.

Jenkins was handed a starting spot in the Glenavon frontline and the teenage striker also had one hooked shot blocked by Gavin Peers within an energetic display.

Summer signing Tom Byrne fired a long-range drive goalwards as Glentoran pushed to regain control but Jonny Tuffey dropped low at a stretch to push the effort wide.

Glenavon suffered a blow on 38 minutes, however, as a late challenge by Marshall left Joe Crowe on the ground and the home full-back off the pitch with an early dismissal for a second bookable offence.

The half-time whistle helped to calm down both sets of players as, in the aftermath of the Marshall red card, emotions proved heightened.

After the thrills before the break, the second period struggled to maintain the momentum as Glenavon worked hard to restrict Glentoran’s drive to take advantage of the extra man.

Seamus Sharkey’s header inside the opening moments marked what would prove a rare Glenavon attacking threat as the 10-man hosts battled to preserve the point - with one superb run by Josh Daniels failing to produce a final delivery to match the approach play.

Murray had a superb sight of goal on 67 minutes when he found space inside the penalty area to connect to Byrne’s curling free-kick but hopes of adding a full stop to his opening talking point ended in disappointment as the effort cleared the crossbar.

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Doyle, Daniels, Marshall, Hall (Harmon, 73), Clingan, McCloskey (O’Mahony, 73), Singleton, Garrett, Jenkins (Murray, 59), Sharkey.

Subs (not used): Burns, Mitchell, Ferguson, Hamilton.

GLENTORAN: Antolovic, Garrett, Peers, Birney (McClean, 54), Herron, Murray, McDaid, Byrne (O’Neill, 83), Crowe, Redman, Plum (Allen, 61).

Subs (not used): Morris, Gallagher, Frazer, Smith.

Referee: Evan Boyce.