Glenavon 1 Cliftonville 2: Marty Quinn came out fighting against his critics after Glenavon squandered a golden chance to lift themselves off the bottom of the league table on Saturday.
Ahead through an early goal, the Lurgan Blues passed up a series of opportunities to extend their advantage before Cliftonville roared back to record a 2-1 win — and Quinn aimed his anger at people he called snipers who hide behind anonymity on website football forums.
He rapped: “I wish these people would come to me personally, let me know who they are and tell me to my face what they think instead of sniping.”
And Quinn, whose side raced into a fifth minute lead through Ryan Harpur then contrived to miss chances to go 3-0 up, insisted: “I’m working my socks off to try and get things right and get out of the rut.”
Quinn, obviously deflated after Ryan Catney’s equaliser and then Chris Scannell cashing in on a deflection off Kyle Neill to snatch the winner, went on to defend his players.
“We’ve a good bunch of lads and they don’t deserve the criticism coming their way. I probably don’t deflect it enough but I back my players 100 per cent,” he snapped.
“We were in four nights last week and I want people to know how hard we’re all working.
“This was a game we could certainly have taken a point from. The two chances we missed were glaring. Diarmuid O’Carroll should have scored a second and David Magee a third.
“But if you don’t take your chances you don’t win games of football.
“We got off to a great start, took the lead, played well, worked hard. But the equalising goal was crucial and we ended up chasing the game when we really should have been in a position where we had the upper hand.
“There was not a big difference between the two teams. We played some great football and deserved something out of it but again we’ve nothing to show.”
Rival boss Tommy Breslin was quick to acknowledge his side was lucky to be only 1-0 down at half-time and confided: “A few words of encouragement during the break helped and, on the second half performance, I think we just edged it.
“But they made it tough for us and it was a hard three points.
“We didn’t show up for the first half but at least it shows we can grind out a result when we have to.”
And Breslin, whose side has now stretched its winning streak to eight matches, had sympathy for Quinn.
He said: “You can see Marty’s team is fighting for him.
“They put up a great display and he’s probably scratching his head and wondering how they didn’t get a second and third goal.
“But if they play like that every week they will have no fears. I wish Marty all the best.”
Complacency may have been a problem for Cliftonville, who really have been hitting the heights recently and are now third in the title race.
But Breslin isn’t in the mood to dwell on that fact and said: “What a run to have won our last eight games but it means nothing because we’re still four points off Linfield so we’re not yet fully in contention.
“Today was just not good enough and hopefully the boys have learned from it. We’ll just have to keep plugging away and see where it takes us.
“We need to just keep concentrating on our own performances and not be deflected by what others are doing.”
Niall Henderson provided the killer ball from a left wing free-kick which enabled Harpur to break the deadlock early on.
And if O’Carroll had made the most of another Henderson pass Cliftonville would have been in real trouble. But, with only the keeper to beat, the hitman somehow screwed his shot well wide.
It was all about what might have been but had Magee, whose pace took him away from Aaron Smyth, kept a cooler head with only John Connolly in front of him, the Reds would have been in even deeper bother.
Cliftonville had chances of their own, too, with Davy O’Hare making a brave save to turn a Rory Donnelly volley over the bar before the same player struck a long-range free-kick inches wide of the mark.
The leveller eventually came on the hour when, at the end of a lengthy passing sequence, Smyth found Martin Donnelly and he provided the shrewd pass which allowed Catney to pull the ball across O’Hare and into the back of the net.
And Scannell, well shadowed for much of the game, needed no second invitation to nick the winner after the ball deflected off Neill and favourably into his path.
Suddenly the game was turned on its head with Breslin’s marauders — who return to Mourneview Park for an Irn Bru League Cup quarter final tie on Wednesday night — well on their way to that eighth win in a row.