PREMIERSHIP: Honours even in thrilling draw between Glenavon and Glentoran
Glenavon and Glentoran produced a gripping 2-2 draw at Mourneview Park as goals in the opening and closing moments helped the hosts.
Back-to-back defeats inside a week left Glenavon on the backfoot against a Glentoran side enjoying back-to-back home wins following the return to management of Ronnie McFall.
The first goal conceded under McFall’s guidance arrived with 90 seconds on the clock when Andrew Mitchell found Mark Sykes and the midfielder’s driving run from deep was capped by a slick shot that nestled inside the net.
Former Glenavon youth prospect Robbie McDaid fired goalwards in response but his shot lacked power and Glenavon went on to claim almost complete control across the first half.
Bobby Burns was often at the heart of the positive home play, with great footwork along the left and a dangerous cross steered just over by Stephen Murray before the teenager took advantage of time and space to drill from distance just the wrong side of the post.
Mitchell reacted to an upfield punt by Jonny Tuffey with clever chest control but cleared the crossbar.
The on-song Lurgan Blues pushed on in search of a second goal and Elliot Morris pulled off a slick save to tip over Sammy Clingan’s curling free-kick before the latter had a long-range drive blocked a few yards off the line by team-mate Murray.
Burns almost capped his afternoon with a spectacular overhead kick of power and pace but proved too high.
Mitchell just missed out on increasing the Glenavon lead as James Singleton’s measured pass found Josh Daniels in space but the whipped cross proved just behind the sliding striker.
Curtis Allen collected a superb Marcus Kane pass in space inside the danger area early in the second half but his path to goal was blocked.
Only an outstanding point-blank save by Tuffey prevented Glentoran from grabbing an equaliser off Steven Gordon’s header off a delightful Ross Redman delivery.
Tuffey was back in the spotlight when he raced off his line inside a packed penalty area and a sliding challenge on Willie Garrett led to penalty claims waved away by referee Arnold Hunter.
From the resultant corner-kick by Redman a stretching Garrett just missed out on a back-post connection.
Glentoran were rewarded for the second-half response with a quickfire burst inspired by Allen that led to two goals inside as many minutes.
Redman’s set-piece strength created problems for the home side and his corner-kick on 75 minutes was steered back into the danger zone by Marcus Kane for Allen to net his 10th goal in eight appearances.
And Glentoran’s situation improved moments later as John McGuigan capped his superb cameo off the substitutes’ bench with a composed finish at the end of superb work on the left by Allen.
However, the thrilling tussle served up a final talking point on 89 minutes as two Glenavon substitutes combined to secure an equaliser, with Marc Griffin’s looping header converting a curling Eric Foley cross.
GLENAVON: Tuffey, Burns (McGrory, 73), Daniels, Doyle, Marshall, Mitchell (Griffin, 69), Marron, Sykes, Clingan (Foley, 85), Murray, Singleton.
Subs (not used): Kelly, Norton.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Kane, Redman, Allen, O’Hanlon (McGuigan, 53), Gordon, McMahon, McDaid, Garrett, Addis, Kerr.
Subs (not used): Nelson, Davison, Ferron, Kelly.
Referee: Arnold Hunter.