Glenavon 2 Portadown 2: Rival managers Gary Hamilton and Ronnie McFall agreed to disagree with the outcome of a gripping Mid-Ulster derby.
Glenavon boss Hamilton reckoned there was a foul in the build up to Portadown’s late equaliser when Conor Hagan looked to be impeded.
That goal robbed Glenavon of their first league win of the season and the first in five matches televised by Sky Sports — whose cameras were at Mourneview Park.
Portadown chief McFall on the other hand claimed Ports had a perfectly good goal disallowed.
And he was disappointed with his team’s overall performance.
“We didn’t play like we know we can,” he said.
Portadown were the dominant force in the early stages and went close to breaking the deadlock with only five minutes on the clock.
Neill McCafferty and Kevin Braniff were pulling the strings but it was Ross Redman who provided the cross which almost let Richard Leckey open the scoring.
Leckey got his head to the ball but couldn’t get enough of a deflection to steer it past Andy Coleman.
And the Ports had penalty claims waved aside when Eddie McCallion looked to have fouled Braniff.
However the Ports continued to force the pace and the inevitable breakthrough came in the 25th minute.
Not surprisingly it was Braniff who carved open the home defence with a spectacular cross field pass.
The Glenavon defence was caught off guard and rampaging full-back Keith O’Hara latched on to the ball and had time to steady himself before slotting it wide of Coleman.
Glenavon were struggling to make an impact but dramatically equalised just four minutes later.
It was something of a bizarre effort as Portadown struggled to clear Kyle Neill’s inswinging left wing corner.
The ball eluded a clutch of defenders after Conor Hagan got a touch with his head, struck keeper Miskelly’s right hand post, rebounded against the chest of Leckey before hitting Miskelly who couldn’t stop it crossing the line.
Suddenly it was the home side who threatened and from another tantalising cross from Neill, player boss Gary Hamilton’s header was deflected for a corner by Redman.
Then, just on the stroke of half-time, Guy Bates unleashed a rocket which Miskelly did well to claw away as the ball threatened to sneak just under his crossbar.
As was the case in the first half
it was Portadown who started the brighter after the break.
But when Redman produced an inviting cross from the left touchline Mackle opened his body and skied the ball high and wide.
Portadown were dealt a massive blow when talisman Braniff was forced off with a hamstring injury just seven minutes into the half.
He was replaced by Michael McLellan who almost immediately had a chance when he latched on to a poor back pass.
However the alert Coleman dashed from his line and with a tackle which would have done a defender proud, cleared the danger.
There was little respite for ei
ther defence and with just over an hour gone Miskelly was forced to come to Portadown’s rescue yet again.
This time he spilled Neill’s free-kick but when the ball fell kindly for home skipper Brendan Shannon the keeper made amends with a brave diving save.
The goal Glenavon’s pressure was threatening arrived in the 73rd minute.
Player-boss Hamilton, only declared fit before kick-off, cleverly beat Redman near the by-line and pulled the ball back for Doherty to drill home low into Miskelly’s left hand corner.
Within a minute Ports thought they were level when Garry Breen got a flick to Redman’s long throw, but celebrations were cut short by the shrill of referee Arnold Hunter’s whistle for an infringement in the crowded goalmouth.
However there was no disputing Portadown’s equaliser eight minutes from time, even though it was fortuitous strike by Joe McNeill, his volley taking a wicked deflection off Shannon.
Glenavon: Coleman; Shannon, McCallion, McCashin, Brown; Hagan, (McGrory 86 mins) Doherty, Kilmartin, Neill; Bates, Hamilton (Burrows 88 mins).
Subs: Singleton, White, Okunaiya.
Portadown: Miskelly; O’Hara, Breen, Gartland, Redman; McCafferty, McNeill, Mackle (Tomelty 58 mins), Murray (Burns 78 mins); Braniff (McLellan 52 mins), Lecky. Subs: McArdle, Casement.
Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge).