Dramatic draw as Sykes nets late goal

Mark Sykes (left) and Aaron Haire (right) found the net on Boxinh Day for, respectively, Glenavon and Portadown. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Mark Sykes (left) and Aaron Haire (right) found the net on Boxinh Day for, respectively, Glenavon and Portadown. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

It may be 49 years and counting since Portadown lost a home festive fixture against Glenavon but Mark Sykes’ injury-time equaliser left the visitors with greater cause for Christmas cheer at the final whistle.

Sykes’ free-kick delivery with the clock on 92 minutes at Shamrock Park managed to bounce past everyone in the packed penalty area and over the reach of Ports goalkeeper Chris McGaughey.

That goal wrapped up a Boxing Day present of a point for Glenavon despite trailing to goals for Portadown from Mark Carson and Aaron Haire.

Ciaran Martyn’s powerful header kicked off the comeback before Sykes made his mark in dramatic fashion.

“We had to take a gamble at 2-0 down and go three at the back,” said Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton. “We had a goal disallowed I would like to see again.

“The character was back to last season, we did that in many games last year to come back for draws or wins but have not really seen that this season.

“I thought we shaded the first half but they dominated for 25 to 30 minutes in the second half.

“We conceded poor goals and gifted Portadown a lot of chances due to poor decisions on our part.

“But if the quality of ball is right then you’ve always got a chance of scoring.

“Overall, when 2-0 down you will take a draw and the change in formation helped us get back into the game.

“Confidence has been hit a little bit this season and the character was the most pleasing, to come back and get that draw.”

Niall Currie was seconds away from a second successive victory out of three games in charge of a Portadown side battling relegation.

“The boys have been fantastic, with no shortage of quality and creating some great chances,” said Currie. “We’ve got to keep it positive and it is a sickener under the circumstances but a great foundation.”