Glenavon 1 Glentoran 3
Many good things in a feisty Battle of the Glens at Mourneview Park were overshadowed by a silly moment of madness near the end.
There were only four minutes left on the clock when the red mist descended on home defender Brendan Shannon and he was sent packing after making contact with referee Arnold Hunter.
Shannon was obviously frustrated at being pulled up for a foul he fiercely contended but then committed the cardinal sin of raising his hands.
The punishment for dissent would have been a yellow card but, once he stepped out of line again, it was inevitably the dreaded red.
It somehow took the taste off what had been a fiercely contested match with Glenavon starting off intent on building on their first league win of the season against Coleraine last week.
And they got off to a flier, taking the lead in just six minutes as Andy Graham’s volley took a deflection and left Elliott Morris hopelessly beaten.
But then the old Achilles heel kicked in and diabolical defending let Gary Hamilton level matters with a simple toe poke on 32 minutes and after that the writing was on the wall.
As Marty Quinn admitted: “We didn’t come out for the second half, didn’t clear our lines, switched off and it was bang, bang, game over.”
And it was wily fox Colin Nixon who did the damage with a double blast.
For the first, on 56 minutes, he ghosted in at the back post to slide home a pass from Stephen Carson and for the second he pounced after keeper David O’Hare made two fine stops.
It took the old maestro’s career tally to more than 80, leaving boss man Scott Young to declare: “Nicky is phenomenal. His scoring rate for a defender is absolutely unbelievable. His were two massive goals.”
Young had also heartening words for league debut boy Kyle Cherry who starred in midfield alongside the effervescent Richard Clarke.
Young said: “After what happened against Ballymena last week, I made changes and decided to give the lad his first league start. He has just turned 18 so didn’t he do very, very well?
“You know, we have six or seven more just like him coming through. All we need is patience.”
The Oval supremo, who has suffered some flak from demanding supporters, was pleased with his side’s all round performance.
He said: “We have to be happy coming to Glenavon, who had a great result against Coleraine the week before, and going away with all three points.
“We conceded what I consider to be a sloppy goal, it was a bad one to lose, but we continued to work hard and tried to pass the ball about and got rewarded.
“We scored some good goals and, with a little luck, could have had a couple more.”
Rival Quinn hadn’t much to get excited about despite the bright opening.
He moaned: “We got off to a great start and the goal gave us a lift but we didn’t take advantage, took our foot off the pedal after 15-20 minutes during which we were the dominant force.
“That let the Glens back into it with Richard Clarke having a lot of the ball in the middle of the park. By the time we changed it around, the damage was done.
“We’re not clearing our lines, not picking up people and we’re switching off. We had to make changes because our midfield was decimated by players being injured, not available and suspended so we had to set out our stall to go forward and maybe we got it wrong.
“I thought we could have got something out of it but it was not to be.”
As if to add to his woes, Quinn suddenly has a disciplinary problem on his hands which could hit hard a little further down the line.
Last week seven players were booked with Ryan Harpur sent off for the second time this season and now Shannon’s indiscretion.
It was almost inevitable however that, despite Glenavon’s encouraging start, the familiar problem — poor defending — would kick in and it did to present Hamilton with the equaliser which sparked the Glens into life.
But, to be fair to Hammy, his celebration was muted after spending last season on loan with his home town team he has supported since a boy.
Stephen Carson provided the left wing cross which caused the confusion and Hamilton cashed in when the ball was not cleared.
Shannon saw a rasping effort blocked before Carson teed up Nixon for his first and, just three minutes later, Nixon hammered home the final nail in Glenavon’s coffin after defenders again failed to clear their lines but not before gallant O’Hare made two desperate saves in the scramble.
It could have been worse but debut boy Kyle Cherry, a confident kid, looked on in disbelief as his shot whistled inches past a post.