Banned boss Eddie Patterson emerged from the throng of elated Cliftonville supporters to heap praise on his weary troops — then accused Glenavon players of over reacting to the tackle which saw Ciaran Caldwell red carded.
Caldwell walked after only 12 minutes when he slid in on Mark Haughey with his studs showing.
Patterson complained: “I was more disappointed with the Glenavon players than with the tackle.
“Ciaran went in with one foot up and actually made contact with the ball. But Glenavon players were calling for a stretcher wanting the kid sent off.
“It’s not in Ciaran’s nature to make challenges like that. Yes he had the studs up but look at the reaction of the player who went down.
“After a couple of minutes he was up running around as if nothing had happened to him.”
That could have been the last straw for a lesser team than Cliftonville. By that stage they were not only a player short but a goal down.
Peter Hutton bundled Tony Grant off the ball and while the referee was unsure or unsighted he eventually pointed to the spot after getting the signal from one of his assistants.
Grant’s shot was beaten out by the heroic John Connolly but Kyle Neill was first to react and made no mistake when the rebound fell kindly for him.
Patterson admitted: “At this stage I felt it was going to be a damage limitation exercise but then I should have known better.”
Indeed, because with 23 minutes on the clock the 10-man Reds were back on level terms. And it was another penalty which did the trick.
Willo McDonagh recklessly tackled Kieran O’Connor and ice cool skipper Chris Scannell demonstrated how penalties should be taken.
Mark Miskimmin fired past a gaping goal as Glenavon did threaten to go ahead again before the interval and later the Reds did ride their luck. Neill couldn’t believe it when Connolly tipped his thunderous volley over the bar and then when Jay Magee launched a long range rocket the ball took a wicked deflection off O’Connor but smacked against the crossbar.
But with the game entering the fourth minute of time added on and with a punishing period of extra-time looming Cliftonville struck.
Barry Johnston, who ironically left Glenavon to return to Cliftonville in the transfer window, floated a free-kick to the back post where Dermot McVeigh rose highest to thump a header in off the underside of the crossbar.
There was simply no time for Glenavon to do anything about it leaving manager Marty Quinn gutted and disgusted.
Quinn rapped: “The best team won. We got all the pluses early doors, the penalty, the goal and then the sending off.
“Everything was in our favour but then we stopped playing whereas Cliftonville passed the ball about making it look as if we were down to 10 men.
“They were better than us, moved quicker and passed better. My players need to take a long hard look at themselves.
“We had some good individual performances but we didn’t play as a team. But there can be no excuses. Players should ask themselves did they make a contribution and if they say ‘yes’ then they are kidding themselves.
“It’s a financial blow to the club what with the loss of gate receipts and prize money. It’s not good enough.”