IRISH LEAGUE: First-half firepower hands 10-man Glenavon the derby spoils at Shamrock Park

Aaron Haire battling for Portadown under pressure from Glenavon's James Singleton.
Aaron Haire battling for Portadown under pressure from Glenavon's James Singleton.

Glenavon entered the derby defeat of Portadown having secured the capture of one striker alongside speculation of another’s potential arrival in the summer.

However, current forwards James Gray and Greg Moorhouse offered firm evidence of the existing firepower on the Glenavon books with a first-half strike apiece to wrap up only a second win at Shamrock Park across the past 13 league meetings.

The Lurgan Blues had Brazil-born Renato Devicchi Martins - a signing from Thisted in Denmark - watching from the squads on an afternoon in which speculation increased over Andrew Mitchell’s return to his former club from Dungannon Swifts on a pre-contract agreement.

Gray, a short-term signing from England, celebrated his first start of the Danske Bank Premiership by kicking off the scoring with just eight minutes on the clock.

A free-kick launched from deep left Portadown’s backline on the backfoot and Moorhouse reacted first to pick out his strike partner for the unmarked Gray to convert.

Gray was involved in Glenavon’s second goal by delivering a cross from the left wing which Joel Cooper collected in space before knocking a low cross into the penalty area for Moorhouse to steer home off a near-post run.

“James and Greg are different kinds of strikers, with Gray technical and Moorhouse offering real pace,” said Glenavon assistant manager Paul Millar. “The boss (Gary Hamilton) came on the other night and scored against Ballinamallard and Guy Bates has done well too this season.

“It was just nice to get the win and we have played better but come away with nothing to show for it at times this season.

“Overall, I think we were comfortable at half-time but then got hit by the double-whammy of a red card for James Singleton and penalty against us in the second half.

“Portadown came into it for a spell but we battled really hard with the 10 men and I do not remember Jonny Tuffey having too many saves to make.

“In terms of the red card, I felt James won the ball but could not say if he fouled him beforehand.”

Singleton’s red card for a foul on Adam Foley allowed Niall Henderson to cut the gap from the penalty spot on 52 minutes.

However, Portadown pressure failed to result in an equaliser and Glenavon had a great chance to increase the advantage but Rhys Marshall’s drive smashed off the crossbar. The full-back had raced from his own penalty area into the Portadown box before combining with Moorhouse ahead of the final strike.

“We didn’t get the ball into wide areas the way we should have but Adam Foley and Shea McGerrigan are two players who will really help us,” said Portadown manager Niall Currie. “We want to play with width and pace in the final third.

“Today is frustrating as it should have been a wonderful opportunity to get something else on the board and the two Glenavon goals were disappointing from our viewpoint.

“Overall, there was not much between the sides bar that cutting edge provided by Glenavon.

“But in terms of honesty and commitment, we had those qualities in abundance and now is the time to dig deep.

“We need to get more players back available and out on the pitch, as you could see so many sitting in the stands.

“The aim is to pick up a win or two before the split as we feel confident we can get results in the split.

“It is very frustrating and, as a manger, you end up scratching your head with so many players unavailable.

“But now it is about who wants to come to the party for the rest of the season.”