Belfast Telegraph

Derby duel in the mud is a six-goal thriller

Portadown 3 - Glenavon 3

By Victor Gordon

Local derbies don't come any more competitive than this thriller in the mud. Three times, the determined Ports went ahead, and each time the never-say-die Glenavon levelled.

The final twist was in the dying minutes when a draw was ensured by an Eoin Bradley penalty - which led to the dismissal of Ports keeper David Miskelly.

Perhaps Miskelly felt hard done by when referee Ross Dunlop flashed the red card, for the slimy conditions gave him no chance of applying the brakes as he dived in at Bradley's feet. But the letter of the law was applied.

Bradley wasn't arguing, though. "The penalty decision was right - and it was right and proper that we should get at least a point from this one," he said. "We showed great character coming back three time, and I thought we were the better side."

But Ports' striker Darren Murray, who bagged his team's opener, couldn't have disagreed more. "It feels like a defeat," he insisted. "We were by far the better side in the first-half, and while they came at us after the interval, I still think we deserved to win."

Murray's goal came just on the half-hour and was the signal for one of the games of the season, a real thundering duel in the mud, and full marks to the effort and commitment of both sides. Murray ran onto a Mackle cross and forced it home at the far post, despite a great effort by Rhys Marshall to cut it out.

Bradley hit the first of the three equalisers when he slammed home a Kevin Braniff pass to which Miskelly got a hand.

The Ports made it 2-1 seconds before the break, and Glenavon keeper James McGrath must take much of the blame. He failed to get to a Chris Casement cross, and Man of the Match Mark McAllister stabbed it home at the far post.

On the re-start, Glenavon went into overdrive and pounded the Ports' backline, drawing a couple of stunning saves from Miskelly and brave last-ditch clearances. But a poor clearance saw the ball fall to Ciaran Caldwell, and he side-footed home superbly from 15 yards with his left foot.

Then, the pendulum swung back towards the Reds, and - with 11 minutes on the clock - McAllister rounded off a great four-man move, started off by Tim Mouncey, when he cracked home after McGrath beat out a Sean Mackle effort.

That looked like the winner, but then came that added-time penalty drama.

Ports manager Ronnie McFall insisted his side were the better of the two, and commented: "We deserved three points, but that's the way it goes. We've had an unfortunate run of just one point from nine. But we'll re-group. We're still well in the hunt."

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