Clingan spot on as Lurgan Blues ease past Glens
Glentoran 1 Glenavon 3
Former international midfielder Sammy Clingan last night rammed home a second half double from the penalty spot to help harden Glenavon's title challenge at the Oval.
The victory not only edged Gary Hamilton's boys to within five points of Danske Bank Premiership table toppers Coleraine, but also piled on the agony as Glentoran haven't won in front of their home fans since September 19.
It started wall for the ailing Glens when Robbie McDaid showed great vision to shoot them into an early lead.
They managed to hold that advantage for only two minutes as Andy Mitchell gobbled up his 11th league goal of the season.
Having bossed much of the game, it was left for Clingan to step up on two occasions, bringing his tally for the season to six - all from the spot.
The game got off to a frantic start with Marc Griffin shooting past Elliott Morris after only three minutes.
Eagle-eyed referee Andrew Davey disallowed the effort having spotted a hand ball infringement by Mitchell.
But it was the home fans who were celebrating 60 seconds later. Curtis Allen made ground down the left before firing in a cross that was expertly touched into the bottom corner by the outstretched boot of McDaid.
However, the home cheers were soon silenced by Mitchell's equaliser. It was Josh Daniel who provided the cross to the back post that was headed back across the goal by Andy Hall and Mitchell nodded home.
The visitors, playing in their orange away kit, asked all the questions for the remainder of the half. Mitchell stung the hands of Elliott Morris with a low drive before the veteran shot-stopper produced a wonder save to keep out a Sammy Clingan thunderbolt from 30 yards.
Hall's cross was then touched on for Bobby Burns, whose clever low shot was creeping in at the base of the post until Morris got a telling touch.
Burns then turned provider with a pinpoint free kick that was met by Hall, whose header looped over the crossbar.
After the restart, it was Johnny Tuffey who was called into action to make his first save of the night, getting down low to push away an Allen header that looked like it was destined for the bottom corner.
Tuffey was at it again just on the hour when a James Knowles free kick picked out skipper Marcus Kane, whose header was ushered over the crossbar by the alert keeper.
But it was the visitors who nudged in front on 74 minutes when Mark Sykes buckled under a challenge from Tre Stirling and Bangor official Davey had no hesitation in awarding the penalty kick. Clinghan was the coolest person in the ground as he stepped up to send Morris the wrong way from the spot.
The Glens then had a real let off in a bizarre incident on 80 minutes when Johnny Addis' back pass wrong footed Morris and the ball tricked into the net. Referee Davey saved the home team's blushes by awarding a free kick against Mitchell.
But it was game set and match eight minutes from the end when Clingan again was deadly from the spot after Ross Redman had handled a Simon Kelly header.
Glentoran: Morris, Kane, Sterling, Addis, Kelly (Ferrin 54), Allen, Knowles, Davidson (Nelson 77), McNicholl, Redman, McDaid (McDaid 83).
Unused subs: McMullan, McCawl.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Burns, Kelly, Doyle, Daniels, Marshall, Mitchell (Jenkins 89), Griffin (Hamilton 73), Hall, Sykes, Clingan.
Unused subs: McCrory, O'Mahony, Lindsay.
REFEREE: Andrew Davey (Bangor).
Match rating 7/10.
Man of the match: Sammy Clingan