Belfast Telegraph

Daniels rescues Lurgan Blues after McDaid's double

Glenavon 2 Glentoran 2

BY GARETH HANNA

Glenavon and Glentoran's new boys played out an enthralling final verse of another Danske Bank Premiership thriller at Mourneview Park. The scripts could barely have been better penned for either Glentoran's Robbie McDaid or the hosts Josh Daniels - all that was missing for either was a dream winner.

Former Lurgan Blues star McDaid came off the bench on 76 minutes, and by the 85th had taken his side from 1-0 down to 2-1 ahead.

Unfortunately for the ex- Leeds United man (below) and his travelling Glentoran side, the playwrights' pen would be handed for Glenavon to scrawl down the final line.

For they had their own secret weapon stored on the bench as Josh Daniels arrived on the pitch on 85 minutes and slid home the equaliser on 87. He could even have won it late on but the inspired Elliott Morris made the last of what had been a long line of saves during the evening.

There were shades of old and new in Glenavon's highly spectacular 24th minute opener.

Defensive stalwart Rhys Marshall carried the ball forward with one of his trademark runs and, when he offloaded to new man Andrew Mitchell, there was only one thought on the forward's mind. One touch to turn and the second curled an inch-perfect finish beyond Morris and into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

It was a half-time lead the Lurgan Blues deserved for a first-half display full of the youthful energy and exuberance that this season's Glenavon is already becoming synonymous with.

But for a couple of Morris saves that would have led some to believe he belonged in Glenavon's youthful class of '17, the hosts would have been further ahead.

The Glentoran keeper had acrobatically tipped over two early Mitchell efforts that threatened to loop under the crossbar. He could, however, only watch just short of the half-hour mark as Mark Sykes' 25-yard drive threatened to make it two, but it whistled narrowly past the apex of the goal.

It had been a comfortable first half performance in all areas of the pitch for the hosts. They scarcely looked like conceding, mainly thanks to a dominant defensive display from Andrew Doyle, who set the tone with an aggressive performance.

In midfield, Sammy Clingan dictated play, allowing Sykes to bomb forward and combine with the lively front pairing of Mitchell and Bobby Burns.

The second-half lacked all of that fluency from the home side, though. And the longer it went on, the more it seemed there could be a sting in the tail as the gritty Glens pressed further and further forward as the clock ticked on. When McDaid laced up his boots on the sidelines, soon to be followed by the hosts' new man Daniels, the script for a frenetic finish was well and truly penned.

It took McDaid just five minutes to find the net, stroking home with confidence, and the second underlined that striking instinct, latching onto a long Marcus Kane ball to convert past Jonny Tuffey. It was Curtis Allen who had grabbed his side by the scruff of the neck, carrying the ball relentlessly forward to find John McGuigan, who set up the first.

McDaid's heroics seemed the perfect story, but there was a final twist. Two minutes after his late introduction, Daniels took charge of a goalmouth scramble and finished low, despite the efforts of Morris and the Glentoran defence to keep it out.

The point was no more than Glenavon had deserved for their flowing first half football, but equally, just reward for an increasingly character-laden fightback from a Glentoran side, who this season lack nothing in terms of battling qualities.

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Burns, Kelly, Doyle, Marshall, Mitchell, Hall (McGrory, 70 mins), Sykes, Clingan, Foley (Daniels, 85 mins), Singleton. Unused subs: Griffin, Marron, Jenkins

GLENTORAN: Morris, Kane, Birney, Allen, McGuigan, McMullan, Davidson (Knowles, 53 mins), Kerr, McNicholl (McDaid, 76 mins), Nelson, Ferrin (Kelly, 77 mins). Unused subs: Sterling, Delaney.

Man of the match: Elliott Morris

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

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