Belfast Telegraph

Philip Gray planning to keep goals flowing after Glenavon debut double

Glenavon 4 Portstewart 1

By Billy Weir

Philip Gray was once the darling of the Northern Ireland faithful but it was another striking member of the family that was the hero for Glenavon on Saturday.

Gray's son James marked his debut for the Lurgan side with two goals as the Tennent's Irish Cup holders booked a trip to Armagh City in the sixth round after a shock looked on the cards.

Luke Bradley's glancing header gave the Seahawks a 10th minute lead at Mourneview Park and the side that plays in the NI Intermediate League were dreaming of a fairytale.

By half-time though those dreams were over, Kris Lindsay heading home an equaliser in the 26th minute before 24-year-old Gray opened his account with a close range finish.

When the former Southport striker was felled in the box Andy McGrory stepped up to send Gary Hamilton's men in 3-1 to the good, with McGrory missing a spot kick after the restart to ease any nerves.

After he left the action the Premiership side were awarded a third penalty and this time Gray stepped up to hammer it home and he admitted that he had enjoyed the experience and hopes that a few more goals can earn his main goal - a move back to full-time football.

"I've signed until the end of the season and they want me to try and help them get into Europe and get up the league and obviously I want to come and play games but I might not play next Saturday because the lads have been brilliant in the two league games since I came here.

"I've just got to bide my time and hopefully score more goals. I've got a lot of family here and I want to go into this with both feet rather than flying back and forth so I'm living in Bangor full-time.

"It's the first time in my career I haven't been training in the morning, so it's a bit of a shock but I've only come here to play football so for me it's a full-time job and hopefully impress."

He admitted though that he was concerned that his first appearance would be remembered for all the wrong reasons when Portstewart opened the scoring.

"I was thinking 'oh no, not on my debut' but I really enjoyed it. Since I've come here the lads have been brilliant, the coaching staff have been so welcoming and I'm really enjoying it.

"We went a goal down but I thought the boys stuck at it and to get three before half-time against anyone is good."

As for Portstewart the difference in class and fitness eventually caught up with them but they were far from embarrassed.

"We held out well and are fitness was good for the amount of work we did but we were defending for 90 minutes and trying to catch them on the break and it's hard work both mentally and physically," said manager Gary Taylor.

"We're happy with our performance and haven't embarrassed ourselves too badly and the penalties made the result a bit harsh."

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Canning, Neill (Kilmartin, 61 mins) Kelly, Lindsay, Singleton, McGrory (O'Mahony, 67 mins), Marshall, Moorhouse (Bates, 75 mins), Gray, Cooper. Unused subs: Patton, Martyn.

PORTSTEWART: Bednarz, Forgrave, Stypolkowski (Condren, 82 mins), Steele, Neill, Bradley, McClements, Peden (Gault, 84 mins), Stewart (Turner, 64 mins), Quigg, Doherty. Unused subs: Hanson, Rohdich.

Referee: Tony Clarke (Newtownabbey)

Man of the match: James Gray

Match rating: 7/10

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