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Crangle right to apply letter of law with Murphy red

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Gone to ground: Glenavon's William Murphy makes a tackle on Cliftonville's Jude Winchester which earned him a red card

Gone to ground: Glenavon's William Murphy makes a tackle on Cliftonville's Jude Winchester which earned him a red card

Gone to ground: Glenavon's William Murphy makes a tackle on Cliftonville's Jude Winchester which earned him a red card

Glenavon coach Nigel Law admitted that referee Raymond Crangle was probably right to hand William Murphy a straight red card in Saturday's home defeat to Cliftonville.

Leading 1-0 thanks to a Gary Hamilton goal before many punters had even relaxed into their seats, the Lurgan Blues found themselves a man light when veteran defender Murphy executed a two-footed tackle which left Reds midfielder Jude Winchester requiring lengthy treatment and a new sock.

The visitors made their numerical advantage count before half-time thanks to strikes from Joe Gormley and Stephen Garrett and, though Glenavon's 10 men battled heroically throughout a brave second-half display, Garrett's second of the afternoon in injury-time put the seal on things as the champions returned to joint-top billing with Portadown in the Danske Bank Premiership.

"I felt there was a chance he (Murphy) could go from the angle I had," admitted Law, who was speaking without the benefit of having seen a video replay of the 19th minute incident.

"Winkie feels he's won enough of the ball to justify going to ground with a tackle. He's disappointed because he feels he's made a clean tackle, but Raymond doesn't get too many of those decisions wrong."

The afternoon had started so well for the hosts as player-boss Hamilton smashed them into the lead with just 37 seconds on the clock after Murphy had nodded Gareth McKeown's throw-in into his path.

Davy McDaid and Gormley each threatened levellers before Murphy's dismissal, with Glenavon goalkeeper Alan Blayney making a sensational flying save to deny Martin Donnelly from finding the net with the subsequent free-kick.

Gormley did get the better of the five-times capped Northern Ireland keeper on 28 minutes, however, as he swept home after some excellent build-up work from McDaid.

Garrett put the visitors in front on the stroke of the interval and also netted in second-half stoppage time, but not before Andy McGrory had struck the base of the post for Glenavon, who also came agonisingly close to equalising through both Hamilton and former Cliftonville favourite Ciaran Caldwell.

Visiting boss Tommy Breslin was in no doubt about either the red card decision or his side's status as victors.

"I think the ball was there and Winkie Murphy jumped in and played the ball and came right thought," he said.

"It looked red from where I was and Jude Winchester's ankle is swollen. I'm not saying it was deliberate,, but I think the referee got that one right and there possibly could have been a few others.

"We played well, we could have made it a bit easier for ourselves in the second half, but I am delighted with the three points.

"Stephen Garrett's goal just before half time was the vital one.

"It meant then that we didn't need to go chasing the game in the second half."

Glenavon: Blayney, McKeown, Dillon, Murphy, Marshall, McGrory, McCabe, Caldwell, Neill, Martyn, Hamilton. Substitutions: Kilmartin (McCabe, 74 mins), McNally (Dillon, 86 mins), McKendry (Hamilton, 90 mins)

Cliftonville: Devlin, Flynn, McDaid, Garrett, M Donnelly, Seydak, Smyth, Catney, Winchester, Gormley, Cosgrove. Substitutions: Johnston (Winchester, 56 mins), Murray (Gormley, 90 mins), Mulvenna (McDaid, 77 mins)

Man of the match: Ryan Catney

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

Belfast Telegraph