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Martyn makes his point as Glenavon draw with Ballymena

Glenavon 1-1 Ballymena United

By Bill Steele

Published 06/04/2016

Net gains: Ciaran Martyn runs off in celebration after scoring Glenavon’s equaliser
Net gains: Ciaran Martyn runs off in celebration after scoring Glenavon’s equaliser

Irish Cup finalists Glenavon's unbeaten run stretched to eight games after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Ballymena United at Mourneview Park.

United's own undefeated streak, under the stewardship of David Jeffrey, is now standing at four matches.

The Lurgan Blues, who received a standing ovation from their supporters for their Irish Cup semi-final exploits, made one change from Friday night's line-up with Mark Sykes starting up front in place of the injured Declan O'Brien.

Manager Gary Hamilton watched from the stands as he served a one-game playing ban, and he was joined by interested spectators Ronnie McFall and Glenn Ferguson.

The Braidmen, who lined up with David Cushley in for the suspended Gavin Taggart, struggled as the hosts attacked down the left-hand side.

Glenavon's first chance came on three minutes when Rhys Marshall fired wide from 20 yards with a volley after Joel Cooper had brought down a cross from Kevin Braniff.

Cushley blasted a free-kick hard but wide before Glenavon had their next opportunity. A Cooper cross was headed back across goal by Braniff, but makeshift striker Sykes couldn't get the vital touch to turn the ball home.

The chances were coming thick and fast with Sykes' 10th-minute volley being cleared off the line by Stephen McBride and David Elebert heading a Cooper cross wide shortly afterwards.

There were claims for a penalty on 26 minutes when Sykes was brought down by Allan Jenkins just inside the United box, but they were waved away by referee Keith Kennedy.

But the first goal came in at the other end when Cushley's short corner was drifted in by Tony Kane.

The home defence didn't react quickly enough and Johnny Taylor tapped in to put the Sky Blues in front.

The second-half started with a flurry and the Lurgan Blues got back on level terms within a minute of the restart when Marshall knocked down a Cooper corner, with Ciaran Martyn arriving to tap the ball home from close range.

They almost went in front immediately afterwards when a Cooper cross was misjudged by Braniff.

The ball fell for Andy Hall but he could not get his shot on target.

Referee Kennedy allowed a good advantage to be played for Cushley to have an opportunity from outside the box on 76 minutes, but goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey was equal to the challenge.

Hall had the home supporters on their feet on 88 minutes after he got onto a Cooper free-kick, only for disappointment to follow when his side-footed shot hit the side netting.

And in the closing stages Cooper's late corner fell for Martyn, but his effort came off the upright.

The result, coupled with Cliftonville's dramatic win over Carrick, means the gap between the Lurgan Blues in third place and the Reds in fourth is down to just two points.

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Dillon, Kilmartin, Marshall, Cooper, Hall (Lindsay 87 mins), Sykes (Patton 77 mins), McGrory, Braniff, Martyn, Elebert.

Goal: Martyn 47

Subs not used: Kelly, Marron, McGrath.

Ballymena United: Blayney, Kane, McBride, Taylor, Thompson, Jenkins, Cushley, Faulkner, Ervin, McVey, Frazer (Henderson 65 mins).

Goal: Taylor 31

Subs not used: Nelson, McNally, Ruddy, Hanley

Man of the match: Allan Jenkins

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)

Belfast Telegraph

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