Glenavon hit back to claim late Ballinamallard draw
Ballinamallard 1 Glenavon 1
Ballinamallard United and Glenavon had to settle for a share of the spoils at Ferney Park as Gary Hamilton's late deflected effort earned the visitors a point.
The hosts came into the game having picked up 10 points from their last five games and having put a cushion between them and the bottom two sides in the Danske Bank Premiership table.
And it was United who had the first chance of the contest when Shane McGinty clipped an effort wide of the post from the edge of the box after a McIlwaine lay off.
It was back and forth throughout much of the opening half, although neither side carved out anything that could be described as a clear cut chance.
Glenavon's Mark Sykes had his side's first attempt but his shot from 18 yards was comfortably gathered by Mallards' new goalkeeper Richard Brush, while Andy McGrory then headed over for the Lurgan side.
Ballinamallard lost centre half Ryan McConnell early in the game and his replacement James McKenna teed up the next opportunity for Gavin Dykes' charges when he fed the lively Ryan Mayse but his drive from an acute angle was saved by visiting goalkeeper Jonathan Tuffey.
As the half drew to a close, Glenavon started to shade matters as a dangerous Andy Kilmartin free kick was deflected back across the face of the goal before McGrory had another effort that was blocked behind for a corner as it remained 0-0 at the interval.
And the visitors continued to be in the ascendancy in the early stages of the second half with James Singleton meeting a Mark Patton corner from the right at the back post but he failed to direct it on target.
Glenavon had a great chance that fell the way of McGrory but Brush got a fine touch to his well struck drive to push it over for a corner.
The Mallards, though, started to come more into things as the half went on with the introduction of teenager Niall Owens providing them with the spark they needed.
His first involvement was to fire a wicked cross that Simon Kelly was forced to turn behind before he then set up McIlwaine's goal.
A good ball from Shane McCabe sent Owens scurrying away on the left and his pinpoint cross was right on the head of the in-form McIlwaine, who nodded home.
Owens was again at the centre of things when he raced through only to shoot over before having another effort saved by Tuffey.
However, there was to be a final twist in the tale as Glenavon player-manager, who had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes, saw his shot from the left take a deflection past Brush.
Indeed, the visitors could have snatched all three points at the death as Hamilton teed up Rhys Marshall but Brush made a terrific save to preserve a point for the Fermanagh men.
BALLINAMALLARD: Brush, Morris, Elliott (Owens, 65 mins), Feeney, McCabe, McGinty, McCartney, McLaughlin, McIlwaine, Mayse, McConnell (McKenna , 19 mins).
GLENAVON: Tuffey, Kelly, Kilmartin, Marshall, Patton (Cooper, 68 mins), Sykes, Marron, McGrory (Hamilton, 78 mins), Moorhouse, Singleton, Bates (Gray, 62 mins).
Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus)