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Glenavon 2 - 2 Cliftonville: Mourneview men let it slip as Reds bite back to grab a share of spoils

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Net gains: Glenavon’s Andy McGrory wheels away after putting his side 2-0 up

Net gains: Glenavon’s Andy McGrory wheels away after putting his side 2-0 up

Net gains: Glenavon’s Andy McGrory wheels away after putting his side 2-0 up

Glenavon's efforts to put a testing week behind them at the end of 2016 were rewarded with a point and a return to the top half of the table after a 2-2 draw against Cliftonville.

Yet they ought to have come up trumps after bombarding Peter Burke’s goal throughout the second period.

Goals from Guy Bates and Andy McGrory were answered by Davy McDaid and Stephen Garrett before the break, and the home side dominated thereafter.

Lurgan Blues midfielder Ciaran Martyn said: “I thought we were the better side in the second half so it was frustrating. We had a couple of shots inside the box and it just didn’t fall for us.

“Maybe the referee could have thrown us a few more decisions but it wasn’t to be. We probably should have gone on to win.

“We looked good up front, we were working hard to get the ball to Guy Bates’ feet and to try and create as much as we could.”

Neither side defended well, but it was a bright, attacking display from both.

McDaid’s early shot was palmed onto the post by Glenavon keeper Jonathan Tuffey, before Mark Patton raced towards Burke’s net and crossed at the last moment for Bates to slide in the opener, 12 minutes in.

Glenavon doubled their advantage three minutes later when James Singleton’s long throw was flicked on in error by Jason McGuinness, and McGrory had no trouble finishing from close range.

But Cliftonville hit back. Martin Donnelly’s superb cross from the right was struck hard by McDaid, and the ball crashed in off the roof of the net on 22 minutes.

Tuffey then made a deft double save after Donnelly circled at speed from the near corner to fire the ball in low and hard, and made a second attempt with the rebound.

Garrett levelled matters on 38 minutes, latching onto an excellent cross from James Knowles to head confidently past Tuffey.

The Lurgan Blues attempted to hit back and Greg Moorhouse’s impressive effort from the edge of the box produced a great save from Burke, before Elebert’s header was cleared off the line by Donnelly just before half-time.

Patton took a speculative shot from distance, but Burke once again pulled off a brilliant save. It was a worry for the Reds that their keeper was being exposed time and time again.

In an off-the-ball incident, McGuinness put his arm across Moorhouse’s face, who fell to the ground, prompting referee Tim Marshall to book the Reds captain.

The Lurgan Blues were still hungry for an equaliser and Bates and Moorhouse conspired to flick and back-heel to Martyn, but his effort was saved.

Patton, Sykes and McGrory kept the heat on and Glenavon had more than enough chances to recover their lead, Burke remaining defiant but the Reds struggling to trigger an attack, despite Chris Curran and substitute Ross Lavery’s efforts in particular to create.

Rhys Marshall, who put in an impressive display, flashed the ball across the face of goal but nobody was there to tap in what would have been a gifted winner.

Belfast Telegraph