Mark Haughey insists he had it all in hand as Linfield draw with Glenavon
Linfield 1 - Glenavon 1
Mark Haughey insists Linfield were in safe hands when he pulled on the goalkeeper's jersey in Saturday's thrilling 1-1 Danske Bank Premiership draw with Glenavon at Windsor Park.
The big Newry man replaced Ross Glendinning, who was dismissed on 55 minutes after hauling down Declan O'Brien inside the penalty area - and his first action between the sticks was to save Kevin Braniff's spot-kick.
But the drama didn't end there. Referee Raymond Crangle earned the wrath of the home fans when he once again awarded a penalty 10 minutes from time when the other Glendinning sibling - Reece - was deemed to have handled a Joel Cooper shot. This time, Andy McGrory made no mistake to level matters.
Commencing the trend, the Blues had forged into a first-half lead when Aaron Burns sent Jonny Tuffey the wrong way from the spot after Conor Dillon handled inside the box.
But it was the performance of Haughey between the posts that earned him the man of the match award.
"The boss (David Healy) spoke to me a couple of months ago about the possibility of me filling in if needed," he said.
"We had back-up goalkeeper Gareth Deane on the bench during the early part of the season. It's not the first time I've played in goals. I did it in my Glenavon days a few years ago. I was happy enough to do my bit for the team."
Haughey stressed he got lucky, although Braniff will have nightmares over his poor penalty
"I don't know about the dive, but I was happy enough he hit me with the spot-kick," quipped Haughey.
"I think the ball came off my knee. I had no chance with their second penalty.
"It's the luck of the draw. I just picked a side. Regardless of how good you are as a player, everyone misses from the spot sometimes. I was lucky I guessed the right way."
Haughey believes his early days playing GAA stood him in good stead.
"I was on the Down Minor team when I was at Glenavon. I was only about 17 or 18," he added.
"Marty Quinn was manager and I was lucky enough he allowed me to mix football with GAA. We played in the semi-final of the All-Ireland. I haven't really played since then.
"I think my GAA experiences stood by me. I was comfortable enough dealing with anything that came my way. I didn't really feel out of place with the cross balls. I have decent hand-eye co-ordination.
"At the same time, I don't envy any goalkeeper. He is always the last man and that's the pressure he has to deal with in every game.
"I thought Glenavon would be shooting on sight, but credit must go out to the boys in front of me because they gave me a lot of protection.
"I've had an interesting seven days. I was out with an injury for a long time and came back in to score two goals against Coleraine last Saturday and then finished up in goals this week. God only knows what's in front of me next week."
Haughey added it was vital the Blues took something from the game, stating: "It was crucial we got the point, even though we didn't manage to cut the gap on Crusaders. Every point is important.
"Yes, we are chasing them down, but we also can't afford to let Cliftonville or Glenavon close the gap on us. We have to make sure we hang on to second place and then we'll think about Crusaders after that.
"A draw may not have been the ideal result, especially with other teams dropping points, but, under the circumstances, it wasn't the worst in the world."
Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton believes his team's second-half performance warranted a victory.
"I'm devastated for the fans that we didn't take all three points because we brought a great support to Windsor but I am proud of the reaction I got from the boys," he said.
"We dominated the second-half, even when Linfield had 11 men on the pitch. I had a word with the boys at the interval and they upped their game. I'm devastated we didn't win it."
LINFIELD: Ross Glendinning, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Bates (Smyth, 59 mins), Burns, Ward, Clarke, Mulgrew, Reece Glendinning, Gaynor (Kee, 85 mins). Unused subs: McLellan, Millar, Fallon.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Kelly, Dillon, Kilmartin (Sykes, 61 mins), Marshall Cooper (Patton, 84 mins), Hall, McGrory, O'Brien, Braniff (Hamilton, 75 mins), Martyn. Unused subs: Lindsay, Elebert.
Man of the match: Mark Haughey
Match rating: 8/10
Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)