Owens pounces to bail out Crusaders against Glenavon
Crusaders 1-1 Glenavon
Jordan Owens last night rescued a point for Crusaders in a thrilling Danske Bank Premiership clash at Seaview.
Gary Hamilton's under-strength Glenavon threatened to derail the home team's title challenge when Eoin Bradley shot them into a first-half lead, but Owens, the Crues' all-time record goalscorer, sent the home fans into raptures by plundering an equaliser half way through the second-half.
Battling Glenavon had to play out the last eight minutes with 10 men after Bradley received his marching orders after a clash with Crues skipper Colin Coates.
However, the result means Stephen Baxter's side still extend their lead to seven points at the top after Linfield lost.
Glenavon, without a posse of regulars including Ciaran Martyn, Kris Lindsay, Rhys Marshall and Simon Kelly, lived on the edge early on.
Billy Joe Burns supplied a delicious cross on four minutes for the unmarked Owens, but he completely fluffed his lines. Burns then tried his luck from distance but his shot was expertly saved by Johnny Tuffey.
Tuffey rescued the visitors again on 25 minutes. Mark Sykes' clumsy foul on Paul Heatley gave Coates another chance, but the in-form shot-stopper produced a wonder save.
Against the odds, the Lurgan Blues caught the Crues cold on 28 minutes and forged ahead.
A piece of magic from Kevin Braniff created the chance and, when he slipped a pass through to Bradley, the ball was expertly rolled into the bottom corner.
The Crues fought back, however, and the pressure duly told on 68 minutes. Michael Carvill was the provider with a sublime cross from the left. It looped over the head of Declan Caddell, but Owens arrived at the back post to bullet the ball home.
The visitors came back off the ropes and almost regained the lead five minutes later. Braniff's neat turn earned him space but his drive was brilliantly flipped over the top by Sean O'Neill.
But Glenavon's chances received a blow when Bradley was dismissed following a collision with Coates and the points were shared.
Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Robinson, Coates, McClean, Snoddy (Clarke 63), Caddell, Whyte (Forsythe 63), Carvill, Owens, Heatley. Subs not used: Mitchell, Magowan, O'Carroll.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Dillon, Kilmartin, Cooper, Bradley, Hall, Sykes, McGrory, Braniff, Kearns, Elbert.
Subs not used: Lindsay, Patton, O'Brien, Burns, Marron.
Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)