How Sammy Clingan's odd boots starred in Glenavon late show to boost European chances
Glenavon 2 Crusaders 1
Glenavon midfielder Sammy Clingan is not the superstitious type but admitted a change of footwear brought him a little bit of luck in Saturday's late smash-and-grab win against Crusaders at Mourneview Park.
It was a result that not only pinched three crucial points for Gary Hamilton's gutsy Lurgan Blues but also helped breathe new life into their aspirations of claiming an automatic European qualification slot.
They looked down and out as the clock ticked close to 90 minutes and making little headway in cancelling out Jordan Owens' 47th minute opener for Stephen Baxter's outgoing champions.
Player/boss Hamilton was introduced late on and he managed to produce a little bit of magic to thread a pass into the path of Stephen Murray and he did the rest with his trusty left foot to level.
And it got even better for the home side when Hamilton whipped in a 94th minute corner kick that was judged to have been handled by Crues' substitute Ronan Hale. Referee Steven Gregg immediately appointed to the spot and Clingan did the needful, by which time he was wearing odd boots!
"My right boot snapped in the first half when someone stamped on me, but I did a bit of repair work at half-time," explained the midfielder.
"In the second half it ripped even more, and the lace totally came out of the boot - it looked as though I was wearing a flip-flop for a time.
"I sent one of the boys to get my other boots in the dressing room, the white ones, but I only managed to get one changed - the right one.
"Ironically, it was the boot I scored the penalty with.
"I probably looked a bit silly running about with odd boots. I'm heartbroken because I've had those (green) boots for over six years, since my days at Kilmarnock. I've managed to get through a few seasons with them. I'm devastated they are now in the bin."
Clingan wasn't even in the Glenavon starting XI, but he was given a late nod when striker Andrew Mitchell sustained an injury in the warm-up.
"Gary (Hamilton) told me I was playing not long before kick-off after Andy broke down," he added. "It's disappointing for Andy, but I had to be professional and prepare for what was going to be a big test. When we awarded the late penalty, I was ready to hit it."
Crusaders boss Baxter was left scratching his head how his lads blew it right at the finish, depriving them the chance of reeling in Ballymena United, who remain four points ahead.
"We were the masters of our own downfall," he said. "We should have been out of sight before we got to the 90th minute - (Paul) Heatley missed a few sitters, Jordan Owens missed a couple of big chances.
"I'm really frustrated that we couldn't see the game out."
On the late penalty award, Baxter raged: "If you are going to give penalty decisions like that, it's time we wrapped it all up," he added. "It was never, ever a penalty.
"It was the referee's assistant that made the decision. If they are going to give penalties for that, we are all in big trouble!"
GLENAVON: Tuffey, Stewart (Murray, 58 mins), Daniels, Marshall, Clingan, Hall (Jenkins, 72 mins), Harmon, McCloskey (Hamilton, 86 mins), Singleton, Garrett, Sharkey. Unused subs: Barr, Norton, Hunter, Taylor
CRUSADERS: Doherty, Burns, Lowry, Ward, K Owens, Ruddy, J Owens (Cushley, 90 mins), Thompson (Beverland, 86 mins), Heatley, Clarke (Ronan Hale, 90 mins), Rory Hale. Unused subs: Doherty, McChrystal, McGinley, Patterson.
Referee: Steven Gregg (Ballyclare).
Man of the match: Jonny Tuffey
Match rating: 6/10