Belfast Telegraph

Glens rue missed chance as Lurgan Blues net point

Glenavon 1-1 Glentoran

Big impact: Darren Murray (far left) finds the net for Glentoran last night
Big impact: Darren Murray (far left) finds the net for Glentoran last night

By Alex mills

Glentoran boss Mick McDermott didn't get the win he craved, but he must have seen enough to suggest his boys are ready to muscle in with the big guns in the Danske Bank Premiership table.

They got off to the best possible start in last night's League opener at Mourneview Park when ace predator Darren Murray shot them into an early lead against Gary Hamilton's Glenavon.

But former Northern Ireland star Sammy Clingan soon levelled things up.

The Lurgan Blues will be satisfied with the result considering they had to play the entire second half with only 10 men after defender Rhys Marshall was dismissed for a horrible challenge on Joe Crowe.

Although they had numerical advantage and they bossed most of the second period, McDermott's boys lacked the killer touch to nick all three points.

McDermott handed his two Croatian summer signings a starting slot, goalkeeper Marijan Antolovic and midfielder Hrvoje Plum along with Dubliner Tom Byrne, while new boys Jonny Frazer and Patrick McClean had to settle for a place on the substitutes' bench.

A minute's silence was observed before the game as a tribute to former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin, who passed away suddenly while in Spain on holiday earlier this week.

The Glens roared from the blocks and were ahead on four minutes. Midfielder John Herron showed great feet to slip a pass into the path of Murray and, after taking a sweet touch, he rifled a low drive past a stranded Johnny Tuffey.

Oozing with confidence, and breaking with lightning pace, Byrne tried his luck with an audacious 30-yard drive that failed to bother Tuffey.

But the home team were level with their first meaningful attack on 14 minutes. Teenage striker Jordan Jenkins burst clear only to be hauled down by the outstretched boot of Calum Birney, who picked up his first yellow card of the new campaign.

Former Northern Ireland man Clingan stepped up to ram the 20-yard free kick past Antolovic, the ball taking a wicked deflection off the defensive wall.

The lively Byrne was eager to shoot on sight and he again tried his luck with a rasping low drive from 25-yards, which brought a great response from Tuffey. He got down to get a glove to the shot at the expense of a corner kick.

And, true to form, the game erupted for all the wrong reasons seven minutes before the interval when Marshall scythed down Joe Crowe with a lunging challenge, which prompted referee Evan Boyce to produce a second yellow card in the direction of the young Glenavon man, much to the astonishment of the home fans.

Gleavon were first to threaten after the break with defender Seamus Sharkey joining his forwards to meet a cross from James Singleton, but his downward header was shovelled around the post by Tuffey.

But the 10-men were being gradually pushed back, especially after the introduction of talisman striker Curtis Allen on the hour - he replaced Plum.

The visitors should have been in front on 67 minutes when Byrne whipped a brilliant free kick that was flicked over the top by Murray.

And, they had another chance to win it when Herron picked out Murray, who looked a likely scorer until Andrew Doyle got a telling touch to find his goalkeeper.

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