Linfield 1 Glenavon 1
Glenavon borrowed a set of Linfield’s socks when referee Colin Burns decreed there was a colour clash — then audaciously went on to help themselves to a precious point at Windsor Park.
And, if truth be told, it could and probably should have been all three.
A missed penalty by Peter Thompson, saved by Andy Coleman, could have been a turning point in a game in which the Blues were kept on the back foot for lengthy spells.
But instead it was Gary Hamilton’s men who stole ahead when Alan Blayney uncharacteristically allowed Ciaran Martyn’s effort to sneak in low down at his left hand post.
Super sub Daryl Fordyce rescued Linfield just as he had done when the teams met at Mourneview earlier in the season. His blistering low drive in the 90th minute whistled past a startled Coleman and the sighs of relief were audible.
Even then Glenavon had two golden chances to snatch the points but twice makeshift midfielder Sean McCashin failed to cash in.
Granted, Blayney atoned for his earlier blunder with a spectacular stop first time round but then McCashin powered a header wide of the target.
The outcome left Lurgan player-boss Hamilton bitterly disappointed.
He moaned: “On reflection it’s definitely two points lost as opposed to one gained.
“All the big chances came our way but unfortunately we didn’t take them.
“Before the game we would have taken a point because it’s a hard place to come to and we haven’t been too successful on our last few visits.”
Hamilton disputed the penalty decision insisting: “When it was given I looked to the linesman but his flag wasn’t up. So I couldn’t understand how the referee could have given it from his position.
“I’ve played at Glentoran and I don’t care what anyone says otherwise, the big decisions go to the bigger clubs. That’s football. You see it all over the world.”
And Hamilton was not too dismayed after Fordyce’s last gasp strike insisting: “I was disappointed but also delighted at how the boys came straight back into the game.
“We would have won had big Sean’s headers been an inch to either side of the goalkeeper.”
Rival boss David Jeffrey|(pictured) was lost for words to explain his team’s below-par performance and conceded: “If I’m brutally honest we could have lost. When we had the ball we gave it away and other times just lumped it forward because nobody seemed to want it.
“The bottom line is this is simply not good enough. I’m at a loss to explain how players who have won doubles are not producing anything near what they should.
“We practice penalties in training so I cannot explain how our top scorer misses. I know he doesn’t do it on purpose.
“Overall, personal mistakes cost us. We missed a penalty and the goal we conceded should not have happened.
“But we shouldn’t really hone in on the goalkeeping error because Alan has saved us on many occasions without ever getting the plaudits.”
Hamilton still insists Linfield can win the title despite slipping 14 points behind red-hot Cliftonville. And a defiant Jeffrey agrees, emphasising: “No-one believes that more than me.”